We're massively excited about Sega's forthcoming Virtua Tennis 4, not least because it is the first in the mighty VT series from Sega that will make use of both 3D and Move motion control on the PlayStation 3.
As such, we recently caught up with the game's producer, Mie Kumagai, who – since joining Sega back in 1993 – has been the creative force behind some of Sega's most successful and best loved video and arcade games.
Kumagai-san became Executive Producer on the new Virtua Tennis series 11 years ago, back in 1999, becoming the first female Executive Producer at SEGA.
It is as the mastermind behind Virtua Tennis, Virtua Tennis 2, Virtua Tennis World Tour and Virtua Tennis 3 that Kumagai-san has won the hearts of gamers and Sega fans worldwide, creating what has become the world's best-selling and most critically acclaimed tennis series.
She is currently working on the fourth iteration of the highly successful series with Virtua Tennis 4 recently announced and due to be released in 2011, featuring both 3D gameplay AND PlayStation Move compatibility. We found out a little more about what's in store for one of our all-time favourite gaming franchises as it gets the 3D treatment.
3DRadar: Virtua Tennis is one of the greatest sports titles on next gen consoles – so how does 3D add to the experience?
Mie Kumagai: 3D technology really helps us describe the depth and sense of distance that exists in tennis, which requires spatial recognition. So by recognizing the distance between ball and player and thinking strategically where to return the ball in the opponent's court to get a point, players can enjoy the realistic tennis experience by using their body with 3D technology.
3DR: Do you think marrying 3D with Move on the PS3 version of the game adds to the gameplay? And how?
MK: 3D technology has been around for a while, but the reason why we are able to provide a fun and interactive experience in the 3D virtual space is because of the integration between 3D technology and Move. Users are not only simply playing in the virtual 3D space, but also making the various return shots by adjusting the angle of the racket surface.
We believe even consumers who are not good at playing actual tennis can feel like the world's greatest tennis players by swinging a racket in 3D space.
3DR: What are the main experiences in the game that you feel will really show off the 3D aspect?
MK: When players get to return shots from the opponent. Seeing the ball heading back to you from the depth of the tennis court makes you feel as if you can catch the ball by reaching out your hands.
3DR: For that minority that don't like to play in 3D – are they going to lose out on the experience in some way?
MK: 3D technology doubles the fun of the game play experience. There might be some users who feel it's annoying to wear 3D glasses… but once they've played this game in 3D, I think they would realize what they've been missing.
3DR: Do you think your game will help TV manufacturers to promote and sell their new 3D TVs in 2011?
MK: I definitely think it will. I'm sure our game will really bring out the features of 3D, and impress people with its interactivity. I would be very happy if VT4 will be used for demonstrations of 3D TVs.