Virtua Tennis (series)
Logo for the first game in the series
|Platform of origin||Arcade|
|First release||Virtua Tennis
|Latest release||Virtua Tennis Challenge
Virtua Tennis (Power Smash in Japan) is a series of tennis simulation video games started in 1999 by Sega-AM3. The player competes through tennis tournaments and various arcade modes. Originally released to arcades, for the home console market the game was expanded with the introduction of the campaign mode. The latest games in the series are available on all major consoles, starting with Virtua Tennis 3.
Domestically in Japan the series have always been released as Power Smash although with the third entry in the series the name was expanded to Sega Professional Tennis: Power Smash, although Sega Professional Tennis logo and name have been prominently featured in all the games, it was only in the title of the third game. Once Sega sold the 2K2 name to Take-Two Interactive, the triquel was released under the original branding as Virtua Tennis 3 all updates and sequels have been under the Virtua label to date.
Internationally it was released as Virtua Tennis, to fall in the same brand as other Sega Sports games such as Virtua Striker, with the sequel the name was changed to Tennis 2K2 as at the time all Sega Sports games were being released as 2k2 such as NHL 2K2, NBA 2K2, NFL 2K2 etc.
Arcade and Dreamcast
The original game were developed for the Sega Naomi Arcade Hardware by Sega-AM3 as a 2nd party studio under the label of Hitmaker and ported to the Sega Dreamcast Sega's home console based on the Naomi Hardware, the sequel Virtua Tennis 2 was built over original home console build, there were several upgrades made to the game most notably enhanced graphics, more courts, and a female roster (composed of 9 players) were introduced to the series featuring the likeness of Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport and even lesser known players such as Jelena Dokić.
After ceasing development of video game consoles in 2001, Sega announced they would be making games for all platforms and made a deal with THQ that allowed them to make original games based on Sega franchise for the Game Boy Advance, one of which was a Virtua Tennis game. Virtua Tennis 2 was also ported to the PlayStation 2.
While the internal Sega teams were being shuffled due to Sega's financial problems, Sumo Digital was tasked with porting Virtua Tennis 2 to the PlayStation Portable and they released Virtua Tennis: World Tour in fall 2005, the game was an update to Power Smash 2 expanding the World Tour mode, however the character roster was the smallest the series, has featured to date.
The series disappeared for several years because of financial problems at Sega, in 2005 Sammy Corporation purchased majority shares of Sega from parent company CSK and merged the company with Sega Sammy Holdings and all 2nd party studios were absorbed back into Sega. Series helmer Hiaso Oguchi was promoted to President of all internal teams therefore he passed the torch of future development to Mie Kumagi, however Oguchi remains involved as an executive producer for all games produced by the company.
Finally, after the studios had resettled into their new division, a new game entered development. In 2006, a new game in the series, Virtua Tennis 3, was released in the arcades for SEGA Lindbergh arcade system. The game was ported to PlayStation 3 with SIXAXIS controls incorporated into the gameplay, but since the AM teams now have a diminished role in the home consumer department, the Xbox 360 port was handled by Sumo Digital, a studio that previously ported an upgraded version of Virtua Tennis 2.
While Sumo Digital was porting Virtua Tennis 3 for the Wii in 2008, they were instructed by Sega to feature Sonic as an unlockable character, which gave Sumo Digital an idea to make a Tennis game composed of Sega characters past and present, which was released as Sega Superstars Tennis which ran on the Virtua Tennis 3 engine Sumo Digital developed for the Xbox 360 port. The following year Sumo Digital released an update to Virtua Tennis 3 called Virtua Tennis 2009.
At GamesCom 2010, Virtua Tennis 4 was revealed for the PlayStation 3 with PlayStation Move controls incorporated, the series also introduced a new first person perspective to help players control the game more effectively with the Move controller. It is the first game in the main series not to be released into arcades.
List of games
- Virtua Tennis (1999)
- Virtua Tennis 2 (2001)
- Virtua Tennis: World Tour (2005)
- Virtua Tennis 3 (2006)
- Virtua Tennis 2009 (2009)
- Virtua Tennis 4 (2011)
- Virtua Tennis Challenge (2012)