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Virtua Tennis (Power Smash in Japan) is a Tennis Sports Arcade Game Series started in 1999 by Sega-AM3. The player competes through tennis tournaments and various arcade modes. For the home console market the game was expanded with the introduction of the campaign mode. The series was first ported to the Dreamcast, the 2001 sequel was released for Dreamcast and Playstation 2. The latest games in the series are released on all major platforms with the exception of Nintendo Wii (while the game was being ported it eventually turned into Sega Superstars Tennis. The game has also been ported to Portable consoles including the Playstation Portable with Virtua Tennis World Tour.
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 2, the triquel was released under the original branding as Virtua Tennis 3 all updates and sequels have been under the Virtua label to date.
World Wide Changes
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.
Inception and Response
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 Dokic (although Dokic was replaced with Ai Sugiyama a Japanese player in the PS2 port). The sequel was ported to the Playstation 2.
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 involed as an executive producer for all games produced by the company.
Finally after the studios had resettled in to their new division a new game entered development and in 2006 a new game in the series was released in the arcades for SEGA Lindbergh Arcade system, the game was ported to Playstation 3 with SIXAXIS] controls incorporated into the gameplay however 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 upgrade version of Power Smash 2 for the PSP, and OutRun2 for the X-Box (another game by Sega).
Continuation of the Series
At GamesCom 2010, Virtua Tennis 4 was revealed for the Playstation 3 with Playstation MOVE controls incoprated, the series also introduced a new first person perspective to help players control the game more effectively with the MOVE controller, as of yet an Arcade release has not been announced a first for the main series.
Updates & Spin-Off's
In 2001, Sega announced they will be making games for all platforms and made a deal with THQ that allowed them to make original games based on Sega IPs for the Game Boy Advance, one of the many games included a Virtua Tennis GBA version. 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 roaster was the smallest the series, has featured to date.
In 2008, while Sumo Digital was porting Virtua Tennis 3 for the Wii, 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, the game was released under the Sega SuperStar label, although it was running on the Virtua Tennis 3 engine, Sumo Digital developed for the Xbox 360 port.
In 2009 Sumo Digital released an update to Virtua Tennis 3 called Virtua Tennis 2009.
All games in the Virtua Tennis series have been critical and commercially successful always scoring 8/10 or higher.
List of Games
- Virtua Tennis ARC1999
- Virtua Tennis 2 ARC2001
- Virtua Tennis: World Tour Playstation Portable October 2007
- Virtua Tennis 3 ARCOctober 7, 2005
- Virtua Tennis 2009 PlayStation 3 Xbox 360 June 2009
- Virtua Tennis 4 is currently under development and so far announced only for PS3
Original Release Dates Only (ports and region dates not included)
- Virtua Tennis Series at the Open Directory Project
- Virtua Tennis Game Manual
- 'Virtua Tennis' at MobyGames