Format reviewed: Dreamcast
The game of tennis has been around since gaming first began. There’s something about the sport that translates perfectly to the competitiveness of multiplayer play, so it’s hardly surprising that the likes of Pong were so popular in the early Seventies. As the years passed the game of tennis evolved so it eventually had very little bearing to the tiny number of pixels that first appeared in those very early games.
While the likes of Super Tennis and Pete Sampras Tennis pretty much tied up the 16-bit consoles for tennis brilliance, it was Sega’s incredible Virtua Tennis series that took the game to a whole new level of graphical fidelity and complex gameplay that would have had gamers from the Seventies staring slack-jawed with wonder.
While Virtua Tennis was an insanely good game, our focus is its sequel as it delivered a number of important additions – most notably the ability to finally place as female characters. Created by Hitmaker, it delivered stunning visuals, the ability to slice the ball (far more important than it sounds) and mixed doubles. The cast roster was impressive, featuring the likes of Tim Henman, Serena and Venus Williams and Monica Seles, while the gameplay was absolutely incredible.
The amazing thing about both Virtua Tennis 2 and its slick predecessor is just how much control you have over the game. The face buttons enable you to pull off an impressive range of shots, while the pacing and AI of the game remains constantly challenging. Then there’s the excellent “World Tour” mode that requires you to train both female and male characters by competing in a number of highly enjoyable mini-games that will test all aspects of your player’s skills.
It admittedly does very little to improve on the base gameplay mechanics of Virtua Tennis, but that’s because they were so well-crafted to begin with. While it admittedly started off life as an arcade game, it’s the enhanced Dreamcast version that we spent all our time with.