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Virtua Tennis

Developer  Sega Sports
Publisher  Sega
Genre  Sport
Players  1-4
Rumble  Yes
Extras  --


Frustrating isn’t it? Seeing our “fantastic” sport stars losing time and time again, when we know we are capable of winning. Euro 96 is a prime example. We should have kicked their bloody ars… (Ed: please hold while I restrain him!) Sorry about that…It really does get me worked up. That’s why I love playing games. You can turn reality into fiction! And that is exactly why Virtua Tennis is such a dam good game. You can make Tim Henman win something! Sega have turned up the style this time…you can almost taste the strawberries and cream at Wimbledon!

When you first play this game the sheer beauty of the graphics and the motion of the players will overwhelm you. Sega have brought in real professionals to capture the motion. The way they move about the court with the hope of smashing that all-important ball is pure class. The graphics are bold and bright, with several easily recognisable courts (although they are not allowed to use the real names) It’s the little details like the way shadows pass across the outside courts showing that a cloud has passed over the sun that make this a joy to watch.

The next thing to strike you down with joy is how incredibly easy this game is to pick up. Its simple, “A” button hits the ball while the “B” or “X” button lobs. That’s it, that’s all there is to it! In actual fact, to prove the control system myself, I invited the local idiot of my small group of friends (yes I do have them) to come and try himself. In just 2 minutes he was hitting the ball and winning a few games! Eventually you will be learning that pulling back on the control stick will do a drop shot and eventually you will be having a great game of tennis against the computer.

There are two main modes in the game. You have arcade mode…strangely enough it’s identical to the arcade! Then there is the world circuit mode, which is a new feature added from the arcade version. It works in much the same way as Soul Calibur’s World Map mode. You choose a player (selection of 8 at the beginning but 8 more to find!) and you’re on your way to victory. You start off with a rank of 300th, which doesn’t look to good, but then you climb the ladder by winning matches. Also you can go into double matches by signing contracts with other players, the best costing the most. Then there are the training games, which are altogether a different game!

Simply put that these training modes work almost identically to Crazy Taxi’s training modes…and that is that they are pure fun and frustrating, but a loving frustrating that makes you go, "dam, I nearly did that, just one more go” Tell your girlfriend to find another partner, because she won't be seeing you for a very long time! Some of the games are just brilliant. There’s a bowling game (again like crazy taxi) where you have to knock over all the pins with a serve. Also there’s a game where you have to bash back huge rolling balls, not to mention about another 6 of these wonderfully crafted games. But they are there to help you, and you will find yourself practising new shots that you never thought of before.

The two player is a riot, more still is the four-player mode. Get your friends into pairs and I can guarantee that you or your opponent will be screaming at the Dreamcast that the ball was ‘in’, only to be humiliated with the replay that shows he was wrong! However, make sure your opponents are experienced like you, because you will slaughter them! But the game is so simple to pick up and play that really there shouldn’t be a problem.

The few problems I had with this game was the sound. Awful! The music is so bad that a tramp running at you brandishing a used syringe seems enticing! It’s sort of rock 80’s that is just diabolical for a tennis game. The sound of the ball smashing is quite nice however, and the announcer speaks in different languages depending where you play. Then there is the world map mode itself. Its good, but I would have liked to have entered tournaments and play a full championship in each one. Instead you get one game in the tournament and then have to move on to a different one altogether until you’re good enough to go up a level. It’s a shame that this feature wasn’t added. Finally, the game is far too short lived. You will always be coming back for more, but you will complete this game in a week.

The one major problem with this game is that you “learn” how the computer plays. You will soon find “patterns” in their play and will win every single shot on the hardest difficulty, because you know where the ball is going to go before the ball is even hit. In real tennis this is called anticipation, in computer games this is called boring! However, due to the beauty of it all you will STILL come back for more.

Sega have done a blinding job with this game. At the end of the day it’s only tennis and you can’t exactly do much with it. But Sega have done everything they can, all the courts are there, all the surfaces are there and all the top players are there (apart from Pete Sampras. Apparently Sega didn’t want this to be a Pete Sampras game!) You get a screen of a court, a ball and players. That’s all there is to tennis, but Sega have done it in such a way that it’s more addictive than nicotine, alcohol, sex and The Simpsons all mixed together! [Ed: blimey that IS addictive!]



Brilliant motion capture with bright, bold colours and the physics of the game make it feel like real tennis.
Sound 6 Poor to be honest. I never play this game with the music on because its awful, but then without something, it’s just boring, so I put on some R.E.M! The SFX are quite good though.
Gameplay 8 Incredibly enjoyable. Gameplay flows like water and you will love to have a quick blast on it for half an hour. So addictive that cigarette companies will be wondering what Sega put in it!
Lifespan 7

To be honest this won’t last you long but then you will always be coming back for more. The two-player option is worth a game in itself and will keep you going for ages.


“ Sega have finally done justice to a Tennis game. Anyone can play this and everyone will like this. Simply ACE!”


  By Michael

Sega have managed to take the very things that make a game good, combined them with an arcade classic, and have really come up with possibly the most stunning sports title available for the Dreamcast.

The main menu has what you would expect from such a game. Arcade Mode, Exhibition, World Tour Mode and then the Options menu.

Arcade mode is what you'd expect, the bog standard arcade game.  In Exhibition you get to select the various aspects of a single match, length of match, AI ability, deuce on/off, however Sega seem to have forgotten to make a full length tennis match option which is a shame, the longest you can have is 1 full set which goes right up to tie break, but the problem is overcome by just playing several separate games with the same settings.

World Tour Mode is I think fantastic as this is the main part Sega have added to give it the longevity arcade games cannot have, and it is fun touring the world trying to earn enough money for that new stadium or player, which you can open by playing in competitions and training which earns you money, and puts you up in the world ranking,

Options menu is basically what you'd expect, changing audio levels, and messing about with game settings to make Arcade mode hard or easy or what ever you want in between.

It has Simple controls that even a monkey could use, 2 buttons and the direction pad, although you can make an amazing number of different shots even from these simple controls with a twitch on the analogue stick while you are pressing the hit or lob button. Making the game feel as deep as it is simple.

Then there's the graphics.  Just take a look at the meaty TV style screen shots. I don’t need to say anymore, the screens say it all! Although the eyes could have done with a little more work, the motion captured played move like a dream and VT boasts some of the most impressive animation on any game, these tennis players don't "slide" across the court like in most games.

And finally what I think is one of the key factors to the playability of a game, the Music, VT contains some catchy Sound Tracks, with the only problem being that if a match lasts more than 5 minutes, it becomes very repetitive as most of the music is about 2 minutes long but loops to give it the continuity.

Overall, Virtua Tennis has it all, looks, gameplay, depth, and decent music, it is just a shame there weren't higher profile players like Andre Aggassi in it, or any female players (PLEASE SEGA, Anna in the sequel please!) Problems aside Virtua Tennis still remains a firm favourite for my DC collection, and despite all the new games coming out on DC, VT is still up there with the best, and I can't see a tennis game to beat this for a good while.

9/10 - If you ignore this title, there is something seriously wrong with you!



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