International 3D Tennis
Copyright/Publisher: Palace Software, Produced by: Sensible Software,
Music by: Richard Joseph,
Release Year: 1990,
Rereleased by: GBH (1992), Genre: Tennis, Number Of Players: 1 or 2
Tennis isn't simply about getting the ball back into the other person's court -
winning demands plenty of smart tactics. Much of the game concerns angling a shot
to force the other player far out to one side of the court, so you can bash his return
shot into the other side.
But the tactical element of tennis often seems missing from computer sims simply
because it's so difficult getting into position and returning the ball. What
Sensible Software have done is to have the computer move your player into
As soon as your opponent hits a return shot the computer begins to moving your
player into line with it, although you still control whether you move forward to
hit the ball early, or move backwards to take more time. On low skill levels your
man will even flash to indicate when the ball is close enough to hit! How you're
holding the joystick will determine what shot you play.
There are four skill levels, with Semi-Pro introducing the ability to aim your
serves, Pro removing the flashing when the ball is near, and Ace allowing you to
put spin on the ball. Of course, there's a practice option allowing you to try out
all the different skill levels and playing surfaces - ie grass, cement, carpet and
clay. Different surfaces aren't only different colours, but have their own distinct
bounce. You can also set the skill of your opponent (1-15).
Confident of your tennis genius you can now enter one of 79 tournaments. A map
shows you exactly where the tournament takes place, as well as how many rounds there are
and how many sets. If you want, you can turn off 'real' sets and play just one set
to decide matches.
As you progress though the rounds of the tournament you meet different player,
there are 100 of varying skill with names such as McEnroe, Becker and Lendl. What's
more even the best players can have a bad day, playing below their normal skill level.
How far you progress in the tournament decides how much money you win. If you
select the Tennis Season option, your aim is to win as much money as you can in a
year. The season is split into 21 1-3 week periods, with a semi-accurate number of
real tournaments to enter.
Before selecting which one to enter you analyse which surface it's on, the prize
money breakdown and how many rounds there are. Small tournaments offer less money
overall, but being beaten in the first round of Wimbledon earns you very little indeed.
What's more, entry into tournament depends on your skill level, only ACE players
can enter the really big ones. (But you can increase your skill level at any time.)
A Progress Report screen not only shows your winnings, matches won etc, but also
allows you to save/load your position.
Very useful since there can be 473 sets in a season! Another unique feature of
this game are the ten camera angles, ranging from the normal angled view from behind
one player, to a side view, to a close-in shot of a player, and even a blimp view
where the men are dots!
Using vector graphics is a weird idea, but it works well with beautifully realistic
animation. Another innovation is the control system - initially I was worried that
this method would over-simplify the action, but it removes the frustration of getting
to the ball, allowing you to concentrate on timing and positioning your shot.
This makes winning points more of a strategic battle with long rallies quite
commonplace. What's more the presentation is excellent, especially the brilliant choice
of in-match perspective. The skill levels are also a welcome feature, Amateur
level making hitting the ball relatively easy.
The computer players are pretty intelligent though, so winning even a minor
tournament is a major achievement. In short, International 3D Tennis is smashing,
ace, and beats the competition to love!
Until now I'd not much clue about tennis, but this issue I've had to learn
the rules fast and had a heck of a lot of fun in the process. Sensi have gone all
out to get the playability, look and 'feel' of the game just right.
graphics are well animated with a strange swagger about them as they walk, a
typcial Sensible 'feature'! It's certainly a surreal experience watching triangular-headed
wireframe players hitting a pixel back and fore, especially if you're watching
it all from a blimp 1000 feet up!
The attention to detail is excellent and makes the game a true Sensi program. The
map of the world venues, the dissimilar skill level facility, the groovy title tune,
the Crowd Control sound filter and the superb camera views all come together to make
Tennis a tremendously entertaining package. It's immense fun for novice and
expert alike and the best sports game I've played for ages!
All this computer assistance might seem a bit limiting, but in fact it really opens
the game up, allowing even me to start making superb passing shots. Once you've
got the knack of hitting the ball, you can exploit the angled shots which really
forces you to think.
Simply hitting the ball back soon gets you in trouble. The satisfaction of
getting Phil chasing almost into the crowd, then putting away the winning shot is
brilliant. Two-player mode is great fun, and flexible too - allowing each player to
have his own skill level.
In single-player mode the wide range of skill levels for opponents, and the
four surfaces which play considerable different for once, mean there's plenty
of challenge. But it's the tournament season, picking and choosing where to play
for most money, which means there's more long-term depth in the game than in any
of the competition.