Virtua Tennis Hands-On Impressions

Sega's arcade tennis series is making its way to Nokia's N-Gage this October.

Sega's Virtua Tennis series originally started out both on the Dreamcast and in arcades. The game brought a level of arcadelike playability to the sport while still feeling like a reasonably accurate version of the real-life sport. The game has since appeared on the Game Boy Advance, and now Nokia is bringing a similar-looking version to its upcoming cell phone game machine, the N-Gage.

Virtua Tennis features three modes. The arcade mode lets you pick a player and hit the court with a computer-controlled opponent. World tour is the objective-based career-style mode that has appeared in other Virtua Tennis games. Here you'll create a player and enter tournaments to earn money, which can be used to purchase new items and upgrades. Exhibition mode lets you configure a one-player game to your liking, or you can set up a two-player match using the N-Gage's built-in Bluetooth support. You can either play cooperatively in a doubles match or competitively in a singles game.

The gameplay in Virtua Tennis is as simplified as it's ever been. One button is used for regular-strength hits and another is used for lobs. The control works fine, but the game's AI seems a little tough, and the game's run speed--even when using the game's fastest players--seems a little too slow to get to as many balls as you'd probably assume you could get to. Since the game isn't finished yet, we expect that both of these things will be adjusted before the game's release.

Graphically, Virtua Tennis has a pretty clean look to it, and the movement is mostly smooth. The game's sound is limited to the fairly quiet sounds of tennis, but a rocking digitized soundtrack fills out the rest of the game's audio.

So far, Virtua Tennis appears to have potential, but we'll wait until the game is finished to pass final judgment on the game's player movement, AI, and other components. Nokia will put Virtua Tennis on shelves in early October.

Written By

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

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