Sega’s Virtua smash

Rating: NNNNNVIRTUA TENNIS, for Sega Dreamcast, $70. Rating: NNNIf for some reason you didn't make it up to York University.


Rating: NNNNN


VIRTUA TENNIS, for Sega Dreamcast, $70. Rating: NNN

If for some reason you didn’t make it up to York University but still want to get the feel of being at a major tennis showdown, Virtua Tennis might be the way to go.

It’s about as expensive as a ticket to the Canadian Open, or whatever they’re calling it these days, and it should last a lot longer than the actual tournament itself.

Based on the arcade game of the same name, Virtua Tennis takes full advantage of Dreamcast’s graphic processor. Players look like the real deal, from their haircuts and facial expressions to their cocky pumped fists when they get a point. The stadiums are also disturbingly lifelike, down to the advertising taking up every available square inch.

Users can play individual games or join the pro tour, with events and practice sessions around the globe. Unfortunately, there is no “McEnroe button” that allows you to chew out the referee when you get a bad call.


Changing reactions

In that sense, the game is about as frustrating as real-life tennis, with the reactions of players and the balls changing depending on whether you’re on the clay at the French Open or the grass at Wimbledon. Of course, these tournaments don’t have those names, which brings up the point of accuracy and licensing.

For all Virtua Tennis’s graphic firepower, the makers apparently couldn’t score the rights to the game’s top names. Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Pat Rafter are nowhere to be seen. Instead, Jim Courier, Cedric Pioline, Mark Philippoussis and Yevgeny Kafelnikov are the top draws.

To be truthful, you don’t actually miss the superstars once the game is underway, but big names are big names, and the top players on the planet, like the proper names of the tournaments, are conspicuous by their absence.

Perhaps, given the draw of stars like the Williams sisters and Anna Kournikova, a game based on the women’s circuit is in order.

mattg@nowtoronto.com

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