OPINION: Part Three of my favourite tennis videogames: Virtua Tennis

Fast forward to the new millennium and the 128-bit era. Before the PS2 conquered all in it’s path, Sega’s Dreamcast enjoyed a fleeting moment in the spotlight with some of the best arcade ports ever seen, including today’s entry, Virtua Tennis.

Looking at the game again, the player movement which so emphasized the heavily arcade nature of the title is still so fluid and dynamic. Nothing before or since moves this well, if you don’t mind a lack of any sort of realism.

There are gripes which cannot be explained away by the game’s almost 20 years of age. No female players is an unfortunate omission, the difficulty level is still based on that of an arcade game and not quite honed for more accessible play at home, the graphics too are beginning to look ropey at best.

But, as with pong, the devil here is not at all in the details but in the joy of free flowing, unpredictable and seemingly unscripted action. The roster of players that are included are a good mix of new and old (Courier and Pioline were probably included to allow a global representation as much as anything else) and in a (very) broad sense, there is some variation in playing styles between them.

The single player campaign is thin but thanks to the aforementioned difficulty incline, offers a decent challenge which should take completionists a while to finish.

Sequels have arrived since, but none look to offer as pure an experience as this. For fast pick-up-and play thrills, Virtua Tennis is still the top seed.


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