#736 Virtua Tennis 3

Posted: 29th May 2021 by Jeroen in Games
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962nd played so far

Genre: Sports
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 2006
Developer: Sega AM3/Sumo Digital
Publisher: Sega

It feels like it’s only been weeks since I played Mario Power Tennis, the previous tennis (or tennis-inspired) game, even if it’s been over half a year. But as I approach the end of the entire list, this is one of the last sports games remaining.

This is a more serious tennis game though, using the real world and real players, and I suspect there will be a fair amount of references to real life and nods at simulation.

Our Thoughts

Given the experience I think I’ve had by now with tennis games, I think I can safely say that this is a good one where playing is concerned. The controls are pretty intuitive, something that feels mandatory with these games by now. You start off on the world map with mostly just practice modes open. As you go through them, increasing your skills both as a player and by having the numbers go up, what’s available on the worldmap changes and tournaments open and close. These are accessible, of course, based on your own ranking, so you can’t get into the big ones until you’re at a minimum rank, so you really start at the bottom with some smaller tournaments that, at the very least, seem straight forward enough to beat. It’s a neat way to gate your progress, even if it’s frustrating when you can’t do much but practice for the week when you want to play.

And the game is a lot of fun to plan. It’s mainly the tennis playing, which hit the right level of difficulty so far – hard, sure, but you’re still likely to beat it early on – while training helps enough as your numbers go up. There’s nothing innovative in the gameplay, but the numbers going up help, and the wide variety of mini games during your practice keep it from going stale.

Final Thoughts

It always feels like sports game don’t really find a way to innovate, but I think tennis games, together with golf games, are ones that have already managed that. Virtua Tennis 3 rightly avoids innovating on that, instead focusing on a realistic-feeling setup to the tournament and your way through the year (even as it’s obviously compressed from real life). The tutorial and practice sessions are far better integrated through the various mini games than a tutorial or separate mode would do, as it pushes you forward – and adds a nice bit of customization to your character, without that overwhelming the game.