It all started in 1999 with the arcade game, but truly exploded in 2000 on the Sega Dreamcast.  Virtua Tennis was one of my favorite games as a kid, not because I’m a tennis fan (spoiler alert, I’m not), but because of the ease of gameplay and the heated battles that would ensue.  If you were lucky enough to have a Dreamcast, a system truly ahead of its time, there’s a good chance you owned the original.

11 years later Sega released it’s 4th installment of the game with updated players and some new features that didn’t exist back in the Dreamcast days.  I have no idea what features are updates from Virtua Tennis 2 and 3 (nor do I care to look them up), but 4 can be played in 3D if you are rich enough to own a 3D TV and features a motion play option for use with the PlayStation Move controller.

The Players:

ATP Players

WTA Players

Legends

Bosses

  • Indonesia King
  • Indonesia Duke

As you can see, almost all of today’s tennis stars are playable, and even a few legends too.  You can even create your own player in the game’s World Tour mode and use that player in Arcade and Exhibition modes as well.  I was wondering why only Venus Williams made the cut and no Serena, but then realized digitally reproducing this body would warrant an NC-17 rating and would require several additional programmers and graphic designers

Graphics and Gameplay

Even though the PlayStation 3 has more computing capabilities than the computers that ran the Apollo missions which put men on the moon, the Virtua Tennis 4 graphics look exactly the same as the original Dreamcast version.  The original Virtua Tennis had great graphics for the year 2000, but 11 years is a long time to catch up.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the nostalgic feel and the movie imaging (non-gameplay) looks great, but they should have cleaned things up a bit across the board.  And the sweat… if you want to call it sweat.  After a few volleys the players look like, well, just see for yourself

Trolls would have a field day if this was a golf game where they can play as Paula Creamer

I gotta hand it to Sega for their penchant for detail.  Character attributes match player’s real-life strengths and weaknesses and they’ve got the player sounds down to a T.  Maria Sharapova sounds like the noises coming from my roommate’s bedroom at 3 AM on a Saturday night and Venus William’s manly grunt is as intimidating as ever.

The gameplay hasn’t deviated much (if at all) from the original.  Top spin, slice, lob and super shot complete your arsenal, each effective in their own way when used at the appropriate time.  You can choose from World Tour, Arcade, Exhibition, Practice, Party, Motion Play and Network modes to take advantage of all the variations Virtua Tennis has to offer.  Let’s be real though, the reason anyone gets this game is for the intense 5 to 10 minutes of a 2 player match, the sick techno beats and the infinite replay value.  While the PlayStation Move is cool for shooters, you’ll look like an idiot waving around the motion controller.  Not to mention the gameplay of the Motion Play mode is inferior to Wii Sports Tennis.  Stick to the analog and play the game it was meant to be played.

The Verdict

If you own any other Virtua Tennis, there really is no reason for an upgrade.  If your brother sold your Dreamcast and all the games to Gamestop a few years ago (that you spent hundreds of dollars on) for about $17.68 and you’ve got the itch to play some Virtua Tennis, by all means go out and get this game.  I copped it for $15.99 brand new around holiday time on Amazon, but it seems their price has gone up to $23.91.  Your best bet right now is the $19.99 Buy it Now w/ free shipping on eBay.  For the countless hours you’ll get out of this game, it’s worth the price.

Score

Based on the nostalgia and infinite replay value, I give this game a 7/10.  Would be a strong 8 if the graphics were anything close to other sports games I’ve seen on PS3

Scale:

1 – Break the disk in half and throw it in the garbage

2 – Demand a refund and write the publisher a nasty letter

3 – Maybe I can flip this on eBay for a small loss

4 – This game makes me want to go outside and do something active

5 – Probably should have rented it

6 – Ok game

7 – Worth the purchase

8 – Very good

9 – Great

10 – So good it’ll give your thumbs blisters

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