Game Over Online ~ Tennis Addict

GameOver Game Reviews - Tennis Addict (c) Hexacto, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Tennis Addict (c) Hexacto
System Requirements Pocket PC
Overall Rating 86%
Date Published Monday, December 10th, 2001 at 07:35 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

When it comes to sports games, we have, on the one hand, the hardcore titles like football, soccer, basketball, so on and so forth. On the other hand, we have what would likely be considered leisurely sports, such as tennis or golf. Of late, it seems these "leisure" sports are getting much public attention. Who doesn't know Tiger Woods or the dynamic duo of the Williams' sisters? Extrapolating from these trends, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine publishers being able to amass great sales from game versions of these sports.

In truth, these sales have indeed come along. My first experience with a tennis game was with the Commodore 64. Anyone who knows the rudiments of joysticks with that platform can understand that I didn't think tennis games were too sophisticated. What could be more challenging than creating a semi-advanced version of Pong? Of course, I stand corrected partly because of the success of franchises like Sega's Virtua Tennis/Tennis 2K2 titles. When I first picked up Hexacto's Tennis Addict, I immediately thought of Virtua Tennis, which arguably is a good thing since Sega seems to have single-handedly brought tennis to the popular masses. They share some common characteristics. Tennis Addict features impressive graphics that are bright and colourful. The portrayals are a bit cartoon-like but nevertheless, serve their purpose well. I have to laud vibrancy in choice of colours simply because it is easier on the eyes, especially under outdoor conditions. Moreover, Tennis Addict features all the same trappings of audio as does Virtua Tennis. You have the announcer who reads the scores and referees the game. You also have the crowd who cheer you on or react to your gameplay, for example, when you try to save a rally. The only thing missing is an upbeat soundtrack.

One of the things I didn't like about previous tennis titles is the lack of sophistication. As with tennis games circa the Commodore 64 era, they involved moving up to the ball and hitting it. Like I mentioned before, this is not much different from the premise of Pong. Tennis Addict features what Hexacto calls PSI; precise stylus input. This is the piece de resistance of the product. As the name implies, this game is played entirely with the stylus. The keys only serve to bring up the menu. So how does PSI fare in frantic tennis sessions? Well, that depends on how fast you pick up PSI. The developers obviously knew that PSI wasn't exactly intuitive, as evidenced by the training levels provided to help you practice this interface. The interface involves you using the stylus to draw the direction you'd like to hit the ball. If you draw farther, that could mean the difference between hitting out and keeping the ball in court. To adjust the speed or power of swinging at the racket, you have to draw faster. This might sound simple but consider also that using your stylus to point at a location is also how you move your player around.

Like Virtua Tennis, you can create a persona of your own or use one of the existing ones. There are two modes of play, primarily. One is a single match and the other is tournament play, which consists of multiple matches strung together by a competition ladder. Tennis Addict lets you play for experience that you can use to enhance your player. Also available for customization is your racquet size. Although there are no real locations modeled, you can choose to play on indoor carpet, clay, real or synthetic grass courts. There are also a preset number of computer players involved so you can jump right in by picking one of them instead. Furthermore, Tennis Addict lets you save your game in progress, so if you’re involved in a long game of total attrition with another player, it is easy to retain your place, particularly in the middle of a tournament. The one major shortfall is, you can't exactly maintain two ongoing tournaments or skip out of your tournament to play a few quick matches.

Although Tennis Addict is a visual treat in and of itself, I found some of the animation a little less fluid. For example, the players can smash, volley and dive to save the ball. However, the transition between the two motions for the character model seems a bit jerky. It is also difficult to discern where the ball actually is in the air and you will find yourself relying on the ball's shadow to determine where your player should be standing. Perhaps incorporating a full 3D engine could help solve these problems. Furthermore, PSI is an interesting and powerful input scheme if done properly. However, like popular golf franchises, I think there is room to maintain for traditional button-mashing play as well as this unique input. The parallel I drew recently is the difference between the mouse's 'true swing' in golf games and the traditional three-click one pioneered by Links. The delicate movement involved makes PSI more frustrating than 'precise' when you are in motion (on the subway, train, bus or walking). These shortcomings prevent Tennis Addict from being a spectacular game. Nevertheless, it is a great tennis title and easily one of the contributors to the recent renaissance in tennis games as a whole.

[09/10] Addictiveness
[18/20] Gameplay
[14/15] Graphics
[08/10] Interface/controls
[09/10] Program Size
[05/05] Sound
[03/05] Discreetness
[11/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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