Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Virtua Tennis 3

Roger Federer is arguably the greatest athlete active today, so why is he absolutely dreadful when you boot up Sega's latest arcade tennis game? The reason: The game's career mode is bereft of generic players—meaning only pros populate the game, and they'll always stoop (or rise) to your skill level. So you'll stomp Federer when you're ranked 300th in the world, which is dumb, but when you earn your way to 200, he'll up his game and destroy you, which makes more sense.

Outside of who's hitting the ball back to you, Virtua Tennis' arcade sensibility means the ball rarely, if ever, goes out. But striking winners isn't easy either—you and your opponent can dive wildly to return the ball, which generically lengthens points. The net play is goofy, too, as players won't spike the ball down for a sure point, but instead tend to pop it up, making a sharp return easy. Still, it's a beautiful, fun, and easy-to-pick-up game, featuring enough innovative mini-games to burn the day away.

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Beyond the game: Between matches in the career mode, your opponents will approach you to compliment your game—voicelessly. The generic text on the screen speaks volumes, though: This game comes on next-gen systems, but it skimped on next-gen elements.

Worth playing for: The variety of mini-games is fantastic, but nothing beats the curling, where you'll knock the stones forward with tennis balls to score points.

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Frustration sets in when: The lack of winners is downright irritating, and it's all because of the Boris Becker-like diving. You'll flatten your thumb trying to earn a winner.

Final judgment: For those with fragile egos who also like jumping rope without the rope, this is a perfect game, as you'll rarely hit the ball out. But hardcore tennis fans should stick with Top Spin 2.

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