Virtua Tennis 4

Spotlight

VideoVirtua Tennis 4 on PS Vita trailer

Sega serving on Sony's new handheld.

VideoVirtua Tennis 4 on PlayStation Vita vid

Sega on board with Sony's new handheld.

Digital FoundryVirtua Tennis 4 360/PS3 Face-Off

Anti-aliasing aside, it's a very close match.

Digital FoundryVirtua Tennis 4 Performance Analysis

Xbox 360 vs. PS3 on SEGA's arcade tennis title.

Key events

Vita Launch Line-up

Vita Launch Line-up

The best - and more interesting - of Sony's day one releases.

Nintendo may have done its best to spoil Sony's party by announcing that Monster Hunter would be coming to the 3DS, but the air of celebration continues around the Vita. 31 games for the handheld made an appearance at the Tokyo Game Show, and - Monster Hunter aside - it was the biggest pull of the event.

With no firm word of a release date outside of Japan and no region locking for the console's software, there is of course a huge temptation to import Sony's Vita when it comes out in the East on 17th December. 26 games launching alongside the handheld ensure that, unlike this year's 3DS launch, there will be a wealth of options when it comes to picking up games.

Sony's first-party games provide the obvious highlights - and Uncharted: Golden Abyss is as close to an essential purchase as there is for the Vita, both a technical marvel that's perfect for showcasing the console's power as well as an extension of one of this generation's best-loved series.

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Sega sees red as sales fall

Sega sees red as sales fall

"Headwind-like sluggish consumption."

Sega sales are down across the board, leading to an overall loss of 2.224 billion yen (£17.6 million) for the three months April, May and June.

During the same period last year, Sega recorded a profit of 7.036 billion yen (£55.6 million).

Why did this happen? Sales were lower and costs were higher. Sega made 28.5 per cent less this financial Q1 than the same period last year. The take for April to June 2011 was 65,331 yen (£516 million).

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Virtua Tennis 4 for PS Vita launch

Virtua Tennis 4 for PS Vita launch

Can Sega serve another ace?

Sega has confirmed that its veteran Virtua Tennis series will be out on court for the launch of PlayStation Vita.

For Virtua Tennis 4, Sega - like most publishers with Vita games in the works – promises to take advantage of the system's various clever hardware features.

The game will be playable via touch or standard control inputs, and you can turn yourself into a character using the camera – or play as one of the 22 famous tennis types included.

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Virtua Tennis 4

Virtua Tennis 4

Without fault?

It's the Tetris problem. Occasionally a game maker happens upon a flawless recipe on the first attempt, a kind of perfection that would be compromised if any of the ingredients were added to or taken away from. So it is with Sega AM3's Virtua Tennis, an arcade game that translated the stretch-and-dive drama of professional tennis with such assured brilliance that, aside from a conspicuous lack of female players, precluded a sequel.

But while perfection may be the goal of every game designer, it's the enemy of the businessmen that pay for the game designer's computers, electricity and crunch-period pizzas. No, a publisher wants the recipe to be delicious, but somehow flawed or lacking. That way, it can be improved and built upon in sequels and the initial investment recouped time and time again. It's the great unspoken tension at the heart of the sequel-driven games industry. And it's a tension that runs through Virtua Tennis 4's centre court.

Because the fundamentals of Virtua Tennis cannot be improved upon. Its breezy court play, with its arcade heritage, is as fresh and comfortable today as it was 12 years ago. Viewed at the ground level of matches, it remains the best video game approximation of the sport available. There have been tweaks made to the core engine – with characters less likely to leap into cross-court dives, and more balanced AI – but they are just tweaks, and the game has all of the delicate balance of its earliest predecessors: easy to pick up and play, difficult to master.

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Out This Week - 29/04/11

Virtua Tennis! Darkspore! Thor!

Celebrate! It's a three day week for UK gamers! But the game industry release schedule stops for no man or wedding, and neither do we.

Virtua Tennis 4 demos are PS3 exclusive

Virtua Tennis 4 demos are PS3 exclusive

SEGA serves up another 360 snub.

PlayStation 3 users are getting two exclusive Virtua Tennis 4 demos, publisher SEGA has announced.

According to the PlayStation Blog, Sony patrons will be able to sample the game's new World Tour mode from 13th April, with a PlayStation Move demo then arriving "as the real tennis season reaches its peak."

This is a second kick in the shins for Xbox 360 fuzzball fans in as many weeks. Late last month SEGA revealed that the PS3 version of its forthcoming tennis sequel would include exclusive mini-games and playable veterans.

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PS3 gets exclusive Virtua Tennis 4 content

PS3 gets exclusive Virtua Tennis 4 content

Becker, Edberg, Rafter playable.

The PlayStation 3 version of Virtua Tennis 4 is serving up a hefty portion of exclusive content, SEGA has revealed.

According to a guest post by executive producer Mie Kumagai on the PlayStation Blog, Sony patrons will be able to pick from three 'Legend' players: Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Pat Rafter. They will be playable out of the box and only available on PlayStation 3.

There are also two exclusive party games on offer. Vintage VT classic Pin Crusher returns, tasking you with knocking over skittles at the other end of the court with your serve.

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SEGA announces Virtua Tennis 4 PC port

Virtua Tennis 4 will launch on the PC, SEGA has announced.

In Europe it releases as a digital download and a boxed product. In the US it's digital distribution only.

The PC version is due out in the summer – after the 29th April launch of the console versions.

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Virtua Tennis goes back home

SEGA on taking matters into its own hands.

SEGA's Virtua Tennis, in its Dreamcast heyday, was considered by some to be the greatest multiplayer videogame around. Its appeal was clear: fast, responsive arcade action fused with devilish depth. The old easy to learn, hard to master job.

Virtua Tennis 4 confirmed for 360, Wii

Virtua Tennis 4 confirmed for 360, Wii

Fuzzball sequel no longer PS3-only.

Virtua Tennis 4 is coming to Wii and Xbox 360, publisher SEGA has confirmed, not just the PlayStation 3 as was initially announced last year.

The latest entry in the tennis franchise will offer Move, MotionPlus and Kinect compatibility, as well as standard button controls for grey-haired gamers whose creaky knee joints render them permanently sofa-bound.

The standard array of tennis champs are all playable – expect Nadal, Federed, Murray et al – but SEGA Japan has also added in emerging stars Juan Martνn Del Potro, Fernando Gonzalez, Caroline Wozniacki and Laura Robson.

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Virtua Tennis 4

How Move and 3D change the game.

Virtua Tennis 4 is an ambassador for Sony's vision of the future of gaming, a confident demonstration of the benefits of Move and 3D. And unlike most early ambassadors, it's polished. This isn't a tentative experiment with mysterious new techniques – you can tell that right from the first serve – but a wholehearted attempt at building a professional-looking sports game entirely upon new technology. It doesn't work seamlessly just yet, but it's already doing a lot better than most.