Publisher & Developer: Sega
Capabilities: VMU, Jump Pack, and VGA Cord Compatible, Arcade Stick
Virtua Tennis first debuted in the arcades, and obviously the game says Sega Sports Arcade on the case so you know it did come from the arcade. Any ways this game plays just like a sim, but moves at the pace of an arcade title, will it appeal to all gamers of the great Sega Sports series, and live up to the standards of NBA, NFL, & NHL 2K? Well, lets get onto the review and find out?
You gotta admit these are some really great visuals. The game was designed off the Naomi Arcade software, so that means a true arcade perfect translation on the Dreamcast. The tennis court looks just like the real thing, and it has all the umpire there, and the people who run to get the balls and an audience. The players look just as real, all are designed picture perfect, down to every little detail, the close ups of them after every turn look amazing on how real their faces look. They look so close to real life players. The instant replays are another thing to marvel over in this game. They usually show them after the winning shot of each game or of some great overhead smash. The game has two camera angles, far out, and in close, where the in close camera angles features way more visual detail on the players and court. Another neat thing is if you look on your VMU while playing, youll see a scaled down, stick figure tennis game thats going on the exact same way youre doing, so if you squint really hard, youll be able to play the game off your VMU! You got some great animation in here too of the players, like this is the first tennis game(I think) that I saw players diving for balls out of their range.
Any ways, like I mentioned before, the game has some really nice zoom outs after each shot, but they only last a couple of seconds each, and right after each ball of play ends, you automatically go to that 2 second zoom out, then to the serve of the next shot. Thats why the game moves so quickly. Like it only took me 3 and a half minutes to go against the computer in doubles in 3 games. If theres anything to nick pick at, thatll be that sometimes when you or the computer lob the ball(hit it high in the air) occasionally the ball would go off screen, and youd have to track its tiny shadow to determine where to hit it, this happens in both in-close and far-out camera angles, but it doesnt happen too often, like once or twice every game or two. And the crowd looks great too, but sometimes on the closeups after each shots, you see these great 3D rendered models of the audience, and at other times, some not so great animated sprites. But thats the only bad part about the graphics, so overall a job really well done like in all the other 2K games.
All the sound effects are sound just like the real thing, like racket smashes, and the ugh a player lets out when they hit the ball and the buzzer you get when you serve a fault. You also got the announcer doing just a little bit of play-by-play like announcing the score after each shot, and when games are won, and whos serving, but thats about it. An television announcer wouldve been great like the ones in NFL & NBA 2K, but oh, well, the announcer himself(and he talks in different languages too, depending on what part of the world youre playing it, like Russian if youre in Russia, etc.) sounds pretty good. The music in here is another thing well done, the opening track sounds like something youll here if ESPN is doing a tennis special, and you can test all music samples in the options too. Theres this one track, Unyielding Spirit which reminds me a lot of the victory road track in F-Zero X for N64. Overall a really bang up job in the sound department too.
Alright, the controls for playing this game is really easy. The Y button changes the camera angle, the X button lobs and serves, and the A and B button serves and gives regular shots/overhead smashes(the type of shot you hit varies on where the ball is when you hit the button). You can move with the control pad or stick, usually I prefer the stick for free, 3D movement, but for some odd reason I prefer the control pad more. You can set the rules of tennis in here too, like how many games need to be won, weather or not to have the Deuce rule on(Deuce is where the players are tied at 40-40, and who ever makes two consecutive shots first, wins the game, oh yeah, scoring for tennis games go: love, 15, 30, 40, game) and adjust the computer difficulty level.
There are a few ways to play here, first of all theres arcade, which is basically the arcade port of the game, where you pick a player, weather or not to play singles or doubles, and jump on into a 6-game match with default rules that you cant adjust. In exhibition mode, theres a lot more to customize, besides the mentioned above you get to adjust in arcade mode, you also get to adjust the game count, have deuce rule on or off, computer strength, and pick the arena you want to play in. Finally theres World Circuit mode, where you tour around the world, ranked last, and win Experience money by completing games and training exercises. You use the money to buy power drinks, new tennis racket strings, and like in a weird Marvel vs. Capcom 2 kind of way, buy secret characters, partners for doubles, arenas to play in, and different outfits to play in. These bought off outfits, characters, and arenas can also be used in exhibition and arcade modes. You have to beat all your opponents in level 1' difficulty first, where all your opponents and exercises are rather easy, then move up to level 2' where things get to be really hard. I dont want to give too much away in this mode, so you can figure the rest up to yourself by playing the game.
Oh yeah, I forgot to describe the training exercises, if you ever played Crazy Taxi(which was developed by the same team who made this game), there was the Crazy Box which featured some mini games like bowling, and time attacks, etc. Thats what these exercises are like too, theres actually a five frame bowling set where you got to score 50 in level 1, 80 in level 2, etc. Plus theres also other wacky exercises like a bulls-eye challenge, and hitting huge beach balls out of the tennis court. Theres 8 exercises in total, all have several levels of difficulty also. For some complaints about this game, I really wish there was an option to play more than just one set of tennis, considering how fast each game goes, also there isnt any real player license here, so all the real pros like Pete Sampras, and Andre Aggasiz arent here. But these are just two little flaws, that are easily forgivable, and will most likely be in next years version of the game(which is already confirmed to be in development by both the developers and Sega).
This game is really a blast to play in multi player, weather it be just 2 players in singles, or 2 to 4 players or doubles, youre gonna be playing this game forever either way. I had my friend try this game, and I know hes really not a big fan of tennis, but once he started connecting with shots and all, he really got into the game and couldnt stop playing it. Also the World Circuit Mode is a blast to keep on playing at to unlock players, outfits, and arenas, and all those training exercises make the game even more fun to play. Also the game supports a lot of the Dreamcast peripherals like the Jump Pack, The Arcade Stick, and the VGA Cord so your computer monitor can act as a television. So theres a lot of depth for playing this game for a while.
+: World Circuit modes a very innovative feature, Flawless Arcade translation, Great multi player game!
-: Sometimes hard to judge where balls will land when they go off screen, cant play more than 1 full set, no official players license
The Final Ratings Rundown
Game play: 9.2
Replay Value: 9.1
Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 9
I first tried this game on the Official Dreamcast mag demo, and in minutes I was hooked, I thought since it was just a tennis game there will be many copies of this game out everywhere, but I was wrong, every place I checked(Software Etc., Target, Wal-Mart, KB Toys) they were all sold out, so for the first time I had to order a game I really wanted off the net. Also for just $39.99, about $10 cheaper than the average new Dreamcast title, this games a steal. So weather or not youre a big tennis fan, you should get this game because of its easy-to-learn, but tough-to-master, game play, and the serious fun youll have playing it. Its a definitely another great Sega Sports title, and I cant wait for the sequel!