The game where love means nothing! Stop making a racquet! Balls! Tennis is one of the best (or worst) sports if for no other reason than the puns. Yet while Virtua Tennis has long been the less serious proposition to rival Top Spin, VT4 on PS3 seems oddly reluctant to let its hair down.
With a linear World Tour mode restricting the between-tournament minigame madness, VT4 was not the best of Virtua Tennis - but it does work better on Vita, partly thanks to a few refinements and partly because its bitty gameplay is more suited to a handheld.
At first glance it seems a very close port, but Sega has given the players a bit more weight so they don't slide around the court anymore, while the original four seasons are joined by an exclusive bonus season. You also get all the chicken-collecting, bomb-serving, card-dealing minigames you might expect.
Virtua Tennis also benefits from Vita's lower resolution - the PS3 version's hard character models and shiny courts come out both warmer and softer.
You can choose between the familiar button controls or intuitive but twitchy touchscreen inputs, and change anytime - probably back to buttons.
In addition to all the modes of the original, there are a few 'VT Apps' that take advantage of the hardware: VR Match's first-person view lets you look around the court by moving your Vita; Touch Vs is an iPhone-style top-down mode that allows two players to face off with just one machine; VT Cam puts an AR player in your bedroom and invites you to take his photo (your in-game stalker Chris would be thrilled); and Gyro Ship has you aiming your ball at clay plates on a pirate ship, which moves as you tilt the handset.
These gimmicky diversions are fun, though far from essential. But it's hard to fault VT4's easy-entry arcade feel and rewarding career mode... and that's no backhand compliment. Oh god, sorry.
Dip in and out, go deep and follow a career, knock about with friends online or in the same room - the Vita version has its sense of fun back. And that's just 'ace'.