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Impressions: Virtua Tennis

We sit down with the latest game in the Virtua series from Sega, the NAOMI-based Virtua Tennis.


With the popularity of Virtua Striker and the announcement of Virtua NBA, it's no surprise that Sega has branched out and extended the series to include tennis. What was surprising however was the game's popularity, as machines were always fully occupied during the show.

The game includes eight real players: Britain's Tim Henman, Spain's Carlos Moya, Sweden's Thomas Johansson, Germany's Tommy Haas, Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Australia's Mark Philippoussis, France's Cedric Pioline, and Jim Courier from the good old US of A. Virtua Tennis looks very realistic and includes such touches as the ball boys and line judges reacting to the play. It is however sad to see that all the players seem to have facial diseases similar to those that plague teenagers, as all their faces have odd and unnatural colorations.

One refreshing note after Virtua Striker, is that the control is very responsive. I've seen several games where players had a rally with some amazing volleying at the net! You can pull off long rallies because of the arcade leanings of the title, allowing you to run back in time to hit those seemingly unrecoverable shots. I wasn't too impressed with the movement prompted by the stick, however. It seemed as though, to make it easier, the game "helps" players get into the optimum position for shots, making it slightly awkward when players move somewhere without your control.

The simple nature of the game (only two buttons: regular and lob shots) makes Virtua Tennis a lot of fun. There are few things in the arcade market more satisfying than finishing off a long rally with an overhead slam, and the two-player mode is incredible. It has already proved popular in Japan and Hong Kong, and that was also the case at ATEI arcade show.

Virtua Tennis is out now in Japanese arcades. A Dreamcast port will eventually follow.

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