Sega haven’t been the same ever since their sad demise with the Dreamcast. They’re a company that for years have focussed their game development on arcade style experiences. Right up until the PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 era, they released games under the Virtua moniker. These were titles that shared strong, fun gameplay based on one subject, typically a sport. Titles like Virtua Fighter, Virtua Athlete and Virtua Striker along with other arcade classics such as Sega Rally were all great fun.
Sega’s AM-3 division, who were in charge of all of these kind of games sadly no longer exist, becoming part of the now defunct Sega Hitmaker. Sega’s a much smaller company since those days, and their arcade divisions are vastly reduced. For a while they focused on Sonic games in the West, and to be honest, they’ve really struggled. The quality of their titles has generally dropped, and they’ve seen game sales trickle down to almost a halt. If not for their strategy games, they might have really, really struggled. In the last couple of years they have been focussing more on quality, and it has been working for them. Sales have gone up along with the quality of Sega’s games. There’s more of a good feel among Sega fans.
To go along with this good feeling, I think Sega should bring back their arcade division and all the Virtua titles along with it. A new Virtua fighter would be great, a new Virtua Athlete would be ace and a new Virtua Striker would be awesome. What would be best, however, is a new Virtua Tennis. The brilliant tennis series hasn’t been seen since an IOS game back in 2012, and the last mainline entry was Virtua Tennis 4 back in 2011. The game didn’t set the sales or critical worlds on fire, and people had lost interest in the series. Since then, however, tennis has picked up speed, and has gained in popularity in the UK at least thanks to the recent success and form of Scot, Andy Murray.
Sega are banking their success on Yakuza titles and the upcoming Sonic Mania and Forces this year, and I think that things like Virtua Tennis could act as great schedule filler, and if made well, schedule enhancer. Sega could release Virtua Tennis 5 in time for Wimbledon (when the world sits up and takes notice of the sport). They shouldn’t try any gimmicky motion controls, or strange new modes. Virtua Tennis 5 should look and play great. The series was at its best when you were in control of your own character, taking on the world via prize money from tournaments and stat increases from hilarious, fun minigames. It was an arcade game through and through. Virtua Tennis is excellent for short bursts and lengthy sessions alike, with capabilities for a fantastic ranked online offering as well as local multiplayer.
Virtua Tennis 5, on PS4, Xbox One and Switch, would be a brilliant game. Sega could easily acquire the licenses for tournaments, grounds and players – the tennis game stopped when Virtua Tennis did. A new one could bring the beloved series back, and better than ever before, as long as they focus on a strong singleplayer that sees you take your own tennis player up to the top. The new generation is missing quality sports games that aren’t football or basketball, and Sega should jump in to fill the void they left. Along with Virtua Tennis they should be making a Tokyo 2020 that isn’t a Sonic and Mario crossover – their Olympics titles are legendary.