A Few Rallies with Virtua Tennis 4 and PlayStation Move

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As dark clouds have taken residence over London and the weather resembles a certain interactive drama, I don’t think I’ll be stepping onto a tennis court any time soon. Luckily, I have a PlayStation Move motion controller, a 3D TV and an early demo of Virtua Tennis 4 to tide me over.

I recently spoke to the game’s Executive Producer, Mie Kumagai, and asked why she had chosen to develop a tennis game when she served us the first in the Virtua Tennis series, back in 1999.

“When we first started the series, we wanted to make a casual arcade game that everyone could pick up and enjoy,” she said. “Sport seemed like a good place to start because it appeals to many people that wouldn’t usually play games. That was the start of the series, but we reached a point where we were looking for something new; it’s around this time that we heard about PlayStation Move.”


Virtua Tennis 4 lets you step into the shoes of some of the world’s best tennis pros. Every swing of the racquet can be performed with the PlayStation Move motion controller and you can judge the approach of the ball better than ever, thanks to stereoscopic 3D support. I asked Kumagai for her thoughts on Move and her philosophy behind working with a motion controller.

“I saw PlayStation Move at quite an early stage in its development,” she replied, “and I remember being curious about what Sony [Computer Entertainment] had been working on and excited about the new technology.”

“We have two points of consideration when it comes to the game’s controls. The first is that we want the game to be playable without the user having to press any buttons at all; in other words, you are relying entirely on your own movement.”

“The second consideration is to achieve a good balance between first and third person points of view. If we wan the game to be totally realistic, then first person would be the way to go, but that way you kind of lose the fun of controlling top tennis players like Roger Federer, so we have aimed for the right mixture of the two.”


The demo available to play at gamescom (and my desk) features Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Your character’s left and right movement is automatic but each swing of the racquet must be performed by the player and you can drop back or rush to the net by physically stepping back or forward. There’s a dynamic camera system in place, so when the ball is in the other half of the court, the camera pans out so that you can see your position.

When the ball is coming towards you, it glides seamlessly into a first person viewpoint where you can see your racquet in front of you and time your swing accordingly. You can even twist the racquet to adjust its face when it connects with the ball, allowing skilled players to apply spin. It’s accessible and extremely intuitive, especially when playing in stereoscopic 3D.

“The balance between accessibility and realism in very important when it comes to gameplay, but I think that Virtua Tennis with Move has a really good system, where the gameplay and the controls are in perfect sync. Building the game up from this existing system wasn’t too hard for us,” Kumagai added.

Virtua Tennis 4 will be available on PlayStation 3 in Spring 2011.

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  • Great Stuff! Go MOVE.

  • is this a game or a Movie?!
    haha! joking hey this game look amazing!
    Now i just need my MOVE! :D

  • I just had my Move and Navigation Controllers placed as pre-order at Amazon. I will receive both of them on the day of its release (September 17th). However, what I’d like to know is: Will you plan to release this game demo via PSN Store- so that way, I can try it out with both of my controllers? PLEASE SAY YES! I am very excited about using both controllers for this game! Thanx!

  • Might be fun!

  • Can’t wait for day one! home my PS3 works for then :(

  • Definite day 1 buy for me!

  • “Your character’s left and right movement is automatic”

    No buy.

  • interesting

  • Having change the gameplay to just play with the Move, without the ability to move left or right, and no pressing any buttons, is going to make a lot of fans of the game very upset.

    I don’t know why developers still trying to make games for casuals only. They don’t care about the games. They play 5 minutes and never touch the game again, and fans that actually play the game for months and enjoy it, are shafted by those decisions.

    What’s the problem in having an option to play the game with the Move and the Navigator to have control over the character?

    If motion controls mean that the game is going to be downgraded to a waggle fest so grandmothers can play, then is a no buy!

  • I was so excited about this game now I’m not so sure. I’mnot sure about the player moving on it’s own. I guess if one had to move the player and swing it could get a little tricky.

    Let’s hope they do it right because since VT maybe VT2 the rest of the VT games have been disappointing.

  • Wow… Now, I’m not much of a fan of tennis games… but this sounds AWESOME!!!!

    This is how Motion Control should be handled! Realistically, and intuitively… while also innovatively and imaginatively.

    From reading this post, it seems you guys have been VERY busy! The whole “First-Third Persons Perpective switching” thing sounds awesome, and seems like it will be AMAZING with the motion controller and 3D being used.

    My only question is: does this game play the same without a Move controller?

  • This is going to make tennis gameplay more interesting thanks to the Move.

  • Actually, while I understand the complaints- change bad and all- but when you think about it, isn’t it pretty obvious where you should move in most cases? It’s pretty much just removing one of the menial/automatic tasks and putting in a more difficult/nuanced task that used to be automatic. (Seriously, none of you ever thought it too simple how different ball-hits were before?) My question would have to be: does the game still support DS3 in addition to Move?

    On a sidenote, those are some impressive graphics. Especially the crowd, which can be sloppy in some sports games. It’s like the MLB The Show of Tennis.

  • I am a pretty advanced tennis player and while I understand that you need to make the game accessible to all gamers, I would really love to have a “pro mode” where you actually move the character around with the analogue stick and where there’s no assistance in hitting the ball. So you can perform everything from inside-out forehands and other precision shots that are based on physics.

    To me, the pack-in game that comes with the Move has a table tennis game. It has a “pro mode” where if you don’t line up the paddle with the ball and time it right, you are not going to be able to play it. This mode is for people who really know how to play table tennis. This is what I want in a PS Move tennis game. Something that might actually improve my strokes.

    A backboard to hit against to practice your shots would be an awesome side addition. It’ll be interesting to see how Virtua Tennis and Ubisoft’s Raquet title (badminton, squash, tennis etc.) will compare and please us who are good at these sports. That’s what the precision of the Move is all about right? Open new possibilities!

  • So, the cpu controls your player’s legs? Thats pretty stupid… could have used the nav controller for that, no?

  • I haven’t been this excited for a Tennis game since…well…ever! Honestly, I did enjoy Sega Superstars Tennis, but that was a guilty pleasure.

  • sounds good, also people please think how awkward it will be to hold a navigation controller and have to swing with the move at the same time, it would be very awkward which is why they have probably chosen for the cpu to move the character to the correct position so you can focus on just the hitting part, I can’t wait.

  • sonic and sega all stars tennis would be awesome with move

  • WoW,, great job
    i playing VT and i think it would be more better if there is 1.more ” Formalization” for each player, such ( speed,stamina,volley,forehand,overall)
    also 2. Ball Sensibilities ( while Steering it, should be more real- so the ball can be fault or out)
    3. what about formating the system to tab an machine error each 70-90 serve ” so that give players a “Challange” thaht would burn the match up :) lol

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