With Wimbledon under way, Commodore have timed the latest release in the International series well. Although several tennis games are out on the market, there are none worth mentioning apart from Psion's excellent Match Point.
What will make people buy this tennis game release you might ask? Well, International Tennis offers a new type of tennis gameplay, complete with a different type of view of the game.
For a start, the view of the actual court is a new one. Rather than the usual view-from-the-baseline (the favourite TV camera position), the court is seen panoramically from the side and slightly above the net, the net splitting the screen vertically. You also have total control of your men, rather than the feeble On Court Tennis type of control where the men run about for you. If you'd like to play from the baseline or at the net, then you can. Timing your hits is done in the same way as Match Point, but controlling what type of hit you'll do is done in the same way as On Court Tennis.
To determine the type of stroke you wish to use to hit the ball, you move the joystick to one of its eight positions. Each of these positions represents a certain stroke, for example (when you're playing on the right hand court), moving the joystick right as you hit the ball will give a long shot to the centre of the court. Using the diagonal right up or diagonal right down will hit a long ball to the left or right hand of the court.
For a short shot do the opposite, using the pushing left and the left hand diagonals. Medium shots are achieved by using up, down and centre in the same way as before. If you are playing on the left hand court, then the controls are reversed. Confused? Don't worry, it's easily learned.
When you serve you can choose from where you want to serve on the court. If you're not careful you will foot fault, but using this method you can do all sorts of services to just about anywhere on court.
When you first load the game you are given options. First choose the colour of you and your opponent's shirts (no regulations about Wimbledon white here)! You can then select the level from the four given, or two-player if you are playing with a friend.
Fans of tennis are strongly recommended to go out and buy this. Even if you own Match Point, this is still worth buying, employing a totally new type of approach to the game, with superb graphics and gameplay. The game takes a while to get used to, but once you have mastered the control and sussed the view you can have a really good game of tennis. The computer offers a pretty good challenge, even on low levels, so quite a bit a practice is needed to beat it. The graphics are very good indeed, with similar sort of characters to the other International games. Animation is good and the sound, although sparse, is fitting to a tennis game. There are several nice touches, like the crowd following the ball and an absolutely superb piece at the end that you'll have to find out for yourselves. A nice atmosphere is generated by this game and I thoroughly enjoyed myself while playing it, and at Commodore's low price it's a steal.
This is the fourth tennis program to be released on the C64. First there was Merlin's Wimbledon - a brave attempt at a tennis simulation that just failed to rise above average due to its being for two players only and having rather awkward controls. This was followed quite a bit later by Psion's classic Matchpoint, which has been widely regarded for some time as the best tennis simulation around. Then came the abysmal On-Court Tennis, which was very unrealistic and limited to play. Now we have International Tennis - an extremely classy and original approach to a tennis simulation, and in my opinion the cream of the crop. .. It takes a little time to adapt to the unusual viewpoint of the court, but once this becomes familiar, you soon have a great game on your hands. There is an incredible range of strokes and play scope available, much more than any of the other tennis games in fact. This excellent control combined with realistic gameplay, some superb touches, such as the very lively and enthusiastic crowd and the ridiculously low price, means this tennis beats all the other opposition hands down. Game, set and match to Commodore, methinks.
Commodore have really done themselves proud with this highly original and superbly presented tennis game. Although the view of the game makes gauging a shot tricky, I soon found within a few sets that I could give the computer a real run for its money. I loved the graphics and the little touches which gave the game a real Wimbledon atmosphere. Sound was a little disappointing, but since tennis is a quiet game, the racquet and ball noises seemed fitting. The computer provided a formidable set of opponents, but playing with a friend was a lot more fun.
Superb packaging, instructions, options and play touches.
Well above average animation and use of colour.
Few FX - crowd could have been better, and a bit of music would have helped.
Unusual viewpoint and wide range of controls to get used to.
Lots of challenge with tough computer opponent and 2-player option.
Value For Money 93%
Worth shelling another ill octopus for this one.
The best available to date.