Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tennis Games on the ZX Spectrum - Wimbledon Special: Part Three

As I type this, the mens' final of Wimbledon 2017 is underway. Also underway is our continuation (from last year!) of our trawl through the archives to locate and play tennis games. Previously we have taken a look at tennis games for the Super Nintendo and the Atari VCS/2600, 5600 and Lynx. Waiting at the tee today is the ZX Spectrum. And in an attempt to have some order to things, we're going to go in alphabetical order today. Just five games are listed here. There are more for the Speccy, but these will do for now. The rest can wait until next year.....

Adidas Championship Tie Break - Ocean (1990)
An overhead scrolling tennis game? A novel way to present the sport, but it doesn't really work here. The game gives you plenty of options for which kind of game to play, and a range of colourful courts to play on. You can even choose the weight of your racket, although I couldn't be bothered to play long enough to find out what effect this would have. The problem with this game is that you only get to see a small area of the court while playing. The screen follows the ball as it moves from one end of the court to the other. Fortunately your player always manages to find himself in the right position for you to return the shot, so it's just a case of correctly timing your racket swing. It's probably possible to do all manner of shots, but it never really feels like you're in complete control of what's happening. The sound is crap too. 

Konami's Tennis - Imagine (1986)
This is quite a fun little game of tennis. There's no real faffing with options, with just a few menus to get through and then you're off. Your player is able to move freely around the court and there is a feeling of control when you have your shots, although it sometimes seems that pushing upwards when hitting the ball gives it a bit too much power and it ends up flying past your opponent and ending up out. The players don't change positions so you're always positioned at the bottom of the screen. Sound isn't amazing, just a weird boingy noise when the ball is hit or bounces. Graphics are good, although it might have been better if the players were drawn in black and not white. But, all in all, not a bad game.

Match Point - Sinclair Research (1984)
An oldie but a goodie. Match Point is simple, basic fun. You can configure your game all from one simple screen, even give yourself and your opponent a name. Players are little stick figures, which move smoothly and fluidly around the court. Ball physics seem realistic and everything mostly works well in this game. Extremely polished and technically impressive, even compared with later games. If you want to play tennis on the Speccy, this is the game to go for!

International 3D Tennis - Palace (1990)
Oh, darn it! I've got my alphabet wrong! I comes before M. Oh well. So, International 3D Tennis is our next tennis game. Calling the game 3D is pushing it a bit. You can view the game from a variety of viewpoints which all kind of give a sort of three dimensional appearance, and your players are a bunch of triangles assembled to look like a human being. Their animation is fluid and again gives an impression of entering the third dimension. Gameplay is a bit slow-paced, although this is another one of those games where you are assisted by the computer, although not to a great extent, and higher difficulty settings reduce the extent of assistance. The viewpoints are interesting but more than likely you'll choose the standard one. There's quite a bit of depth on offer as you can play tournaments around the world, but the game feels like it's a bit of a novelty.

International Tennis - Zeppelin (1992)
One of the Spectrum's later tennis sims which shows in the overall presentation and quality. Fun and fast-paced and a good alternative to Match Point. Plenty of options give you a lot of ways to play the game. Sound is minimal but does the job. Graphics are also quite detailed, even if the background image makes it look like you're playing in a cave.

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