Virtua Tennis © Sega

It's amazing to see what Sega has done with a relatively uninteresting sport into something rather enjoyable. I've been hooked to Virtua Tennis in the arcade for quite sometime as it has been sucking down all my quarters (along with World Series '99) for the past month. But I didn't know what I was going to expect in the Dreamcast version. I knew I'd get a straight arcade port, but would it hold my attention enough to make it a keeper?

Even if you've never have or never will be a fan of Tennis, Sega couldn't gotten it more on the ball for this game. To play the game, all you need to know is how to move your player with the joystick and use the two buttons, one for serve/volley, and the other for lobbing. 90% of the time you'll just use the volley button. Unlike with many other tennis games released to the market where you have to master the controls and takes the fun out of the game by being a difficult simulation, this puts in a good dose of arcade action along with simulation. Once you get into the groove with Virtua Tennis you see that it's a simulation as you can lay down baseline shots, learn to attack the net and also control your shots after enough practice.

When start playing on the court you can't help but notice the gorgeous graphics on the screen. Sega has made sure everything is detailed with streaks on the clay & hard courts from aces served and streaks left behind with your shoes. If you put a side by side of Virtua Tennis running and an actual tennis game, you'd have a difficult time telling the difference.

There are small things added to the game to help enhance the experience. Every time you make a good shot you see an up close and personal expression of your player that looks photo realistic, giving you that ESPN feel to it. The default camera is an overheard view of both players. While you can select a 3rd person behind the back, it isn't suggested to use the 3rd person view as it blocks off your true line of sight to the ball.

The developers of Virtua Tennis must of been avid fans because they add kinds of fan favorites like ability to dive after balls, do unbelievable backhand shots (even between the legs!), and tons of smash aces. With its easy controls, you can't but feel like you're actually there on the court even if you've never picked up a racket. Sorry, no cursing at the umpire since this is an all-ages game. You can curse if you want in your own living room while playing the game.

The player selection in Virtua Tennis starts with 8 relatively unknown players outside of the Tennis community. There is one player from each major country of tennis. Later on in the game you can unlock other players and tennis courts.

When you start the game you have three options: Arcade Mode (with infinite continues), Exhibition Mode & World Circuit. This game isn't just restricted to just singles as you can play in doubles mode if that is your forte choice of tennis. If you do pick doubles mode, don't worry about an idiotic Computer AI just randomly returning serves as it'll actually play a good round of tennis with you.

With the Arcade Mode you have to beat five players to win the Sega Championship Trophy. You can set it up in options how many games each rounds last but the default is two rounds. As you would expect the difficulty of the Computer AI becomes greater as you advance. Even on normal mode, the third round opponent would be a severe challenge that'd it takes several attempts in order to progress.

Exhibition mode allows you to setup your own quick rules and opponents. This is where you can play multiplayer, which is where it really shines. You can play against each other or team up in a doubles match. The joy of it was seeing other player's actions/reactions in the game and making boisterous comments about each others playing ability. There is no round robin for you tennis purists; we'll have to see if a sequel adds this feature.

A hugely disappointed omitted feature taken from this game (but added to the Japanese version) is the ability to use the Dreamcast's on-line multiplayer capability. Please, Sega, I'm begging, have this feature added when the official on-line site launches in September. This is a game that sorely deserves the chance to test my tennis powers against another foe on-line.

The world circuit mode takes the idea of the "Crazy Box" from Crazy Taxi and the arcade mode of Virtua Tennis then mashes it together. You get to choice 1 of 8 players and start at the bottom of the tennis rankings. You have to finish training levels like hitting gigantic balls off the court and win tournaments all over the world. You earn money for each training level or tournament you complete, allowing you to go to the tennis shop. When you enter the shop you can unlock different players, courts, even color outfits if you have enough money.

The long-term factor for this game is learning the abilities to be an excellent tennis player in the difficult but very enjoyable world circuit mode so you can unlock the better players in arcade/exhibition mode. If you'd rather play with your friends, you'll have a blast with all your friends huddled around the Dreamcast. Not since the usual yearly entourage of [American] Football has a multi-player sports game been a huge hit with the friends.

When I took Virtua Tennis over to a friend's place, I think he best described it the game, "I don't even like tennis and this game kicks some serious..", well, you get the idea. Sega has even turned non-believers of the sport into fans of this tennis game. With it's relatively easy to get into controls and semi-addicting action, this is another must own, if you can find it. Sega's first run of 50,000 copies has already sold out which just shows how popular it has caught on with fans far and wide.








Release date



Quick Summary:
Best game of tennis you'll find anywhere




All rights reserved