Have You Played… Virtua Tennis?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Before Sega were the owners of Relic, Sports Interactive and The Creative Assembly, their games arriving on PC felt like a strange treat. Virtua Tennis doubly so, for being a rare, excellent tennis game on the PC.

I loved Smash Court Tennis – particularly Anna Kournikova’s Smash Court Tennis on the PlayStation – but those games never left console. Virtua Tennis was a similar game in that it was simple to control, but it looked and played more like real tennis.

This matters when the rules of tennis are simple enough that, simplified further, games can easily come to feel like Pong. Virtua Tennis managed, without the need for flapping your arms in front of a motion sensor, to feel like you were hitting a ball with an arm-swung racket. That made for super-satisfying rallies, as you attempted to lure your opponent back and forth across the court till you could strike the perfect drop shot.

The series fell by the wayside with 2011’s Virtual Tennis 4 and there’s not been many PC tennis games since. A shame.


  1. DanMan says:

    Yes, I have. The first one on Dreamcast even. It’s pretty awesome, but somehow I found the first one to be deeper than the one on PC. Either way, there are actually a lot of hidden controls in that game that let you influence how the ball behaves. They’re not even in the manual, which is great.
    I loved that back in the day when you could find out stuff like that. Gave the games another shot in the arm.

  2. thekelvingreen says:

    Anna Kournikova‚Äôs Smash Court Tennis is wonderful. I haven’t played Virtua Tennis.

  3. Zankman says:

    Top Spin is better.

    VT is too console-y.

    Both were last released in 2011…

    Tennis Elbow is great but too niche and for hardcore players only.

    • CartonofMilk says:

      Yeah i played Top spin 2. Last tennis game i ever played. What was it like 2006 i think. The career mode was pretty good. Though i think you had something like 5 years which i felt wasn’t enougb. I’d have played the further games in the series but they never released them on pc. A shame

    • Moth Bones says:

      I’d say Tennis Elbow is pretty accessible, it has easy keyboard controls and I’ve enjoyed progressing my player to the top 100 (playing one-set matches probably helps, though I go three sets in finals). Volleying is incredibly hard though. Anyway, it’s an excellent PC tennis game, I don’t know of any current rival.

    • Stardog says:

      Yeah, Top Spin iss better, but only the first came out for PC. I didn’t play 4, but 3 was good.

      Top Spin > Jimmy Connors Pro Tennis Tour > Virtua Tennis.

      Jimmy Connors was the first tennis game I played that had the wind-up mechanic that they’ve all used since.

  4. Neurotic says:

    I’d argue that VT4 was better, but I’m about to jump in the shower. And yuk, Top Spin, the controls destroyed my brain.

  5. Mr Bismarck says:

    The Virtua Tennis player creator was a thing of beauty.

  6. Jediben says:

    GTA5 tennis is better than all of them.

  7. dccarles says:

    I just realized how much I want a combination of Virtua Tennis and Balance of Power. Call it Eschaton.

  8. ROMhack says:

    Oh yes I have.

    On many Friday night trips to the arcade next to the Vue cinema in the next town over. Tommy Haas wasn’t the greatest, but by George he had the best name. Unstoppable. I once got to the semi-finals.

    Guaranteed 20 minutes of play all for a quid. Could you get that these days? I still die playing Time Crisis after about 10.

    • jarowdowsky says:

      Ha, I used to love VT for the same reason. Great cheap way to waste a lunchtime in the skanky Upper Street arcade…