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What started as one of Sega’s attempts at bringing something different to the arcade in the late 1990s, Virtua Tennis eventually became a staple in the Dreamcast lineup. It went on to have a handful of sequels and adaptations on a great variety of platforms.
Having the essential quality of being easy to play and difficulty to master, Virtua Tennis was one of the sleeper hits on the Dreamcast. It is often overlooked as a killer party game — I have had many parties with both guys and girls of all gaming levels having a blast on a 4-player doubles tournament.
While other enjoyable tennis titles have come long since (Top Spin and Mario Power Tennis), Virtua Tennis still holds up as being possibly the best tennis game ever.
Not only is Virtua Tennis a great multiplayer game, but it also features an entertaining Soul Calibur-style single player game, where the player must progress through the ranks to become the world’s top player. Even if you don’t like tennis too much, this is still an essential game, and an example of multiplayer Dreamcast gaming at its best.
Legacy and Ports
The “sequel”, Tennis 2K2 (name changed to for the US release match Sega’s other 2K sports games) is pretty much the same as Virtua Tennis except that the graphics are a bit more polished and it adds to the player lineup with a female roster (including the Williams sisters). Later sequels went back to the “Virtua Tennis” after Sega sold the name to Take-Two Interactive.
- Virtua Tennis (1999)
- Virtua Tennis 2 / Tennis 2K2 (2001)
- Virtua Tennis: World Tour (2005)
- Virtua Tennis 3 (2007)
- Virtua Tennis 2009 (2009)
- Virtua Tennis 4 (2011)
- Virtua Tennis Challenge (2012)
Additionally, Sega Superstars Tennis ran on the Virtua Tennis 3 engine and featured a collection of Sega characters and courts that match themes from Sega games. It’s typically quite affordable and is a nice addition to a Sega fan’s collection.
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