2014/8/3: Intellivision: Tennis, Championship Tennis, Super Pro Tennis

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VideoGameCritic
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2014/8/3: Intellivision: Tennis, Championship Tennis, Super Pro Tennis

Postby VideoGameCritic » August 3rd, 2014, 12:16 pm

This is the complete set of Intellivision Tennis games.  The new one is Super Pro Tennis (2013!).  I re-reviewed the old ones, which were extremely short.

Please let me know what you think about these games, and their reviews.

goldenband1
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2014/8/3: Intellivision: Tennis, Championship Tennis, Super Pro Tennis

Postby goldenband1 » August 3rd, 2014, 1:29 pm

Great, very fair reviews. I'm quite fond of Championship Tennis -- I know of no other tennis game on a pre-crash system that comes so close to duplicating the dynamics of the real game, and to be honest there aren't many good ones on the NES/SMS either (Family Tennis on the Famicom is probably the best of the bunch). But it has one heck of a learning curve, the controls are frustrating at times, and it's pretty buggy.

I ultimately beat the game on the highest difficulty, and I found the most reliable tactic to win points was a cross-court forehand hit from near the service line (at least from the near court). But the collision detection is so wonky, it's possible to hit that shot when it looks like you're 10+ feet too far to the left. Sometimes your racket isn't remotely near the ball, and yet you still make contact! And if you want to reliably crash Championship Tennis, just hit the key combination to check the scoreboard between games (not sets, that's fine). After checking the board I've had it just completely refuse to let me serve, make the character graphics completely bug out, and all kinds of other weirdness.

Astrosmasher1
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2014/8/3: Intellivision: Tennis, Championship Tennis, Super Pro Tennis

Postby Astrosmasher1 » August 3rd, 2014, 1:34 pm

All the games look good in a nostalgic way.  It was a shame to hear that Tennis was two player only.  Also the all the rest of the tennis games came out after the Intellivision's hayday.

Teddybear1
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2014/8/3: Intellivision: Tennis, Championship Tennis, Super Pro Tennis

Postby Teddybear1 » August 3rd, 2014, 2:24 pm

While it is always great to see new & updated Intellivision reviews I got to be honest - tennis in real life and in video games holds absolutely no interest for me.

I don't think I am being too narrow-minded.  I don't like (or play) hockey or golf nor do I ever watch these sports on TV.  But I do enjoy playing them on several video game systems -   NHL '94, Mean 18, Blades of Steel and most certainly the Plug 'N Play Golden Tee games come to mind....

Do avid tennis players really enjoy playing tennis video games?  It just seems like it would be playing extreme Pong to me. Back and forth, back and forth...... 

goldenband1
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2014/8/3: Intellivision: Tennis, Championship Tennis, Super Pro Tennis

Postby goldenband1 » August 4th, 2014, 12:54 pm

[QUOTE=Teddybear]Do avid tennis players really enjoy playing tennis video games?  It just seems like it would be playing extreme Pong to me. Back and forth, back and forth...... [/QUOTE]

Well, I'm not an avid tennis player -- more of a spectator -- but that's pretty much how I felt about tennis and tennis video games until I learned more about the sport. Seeing live tennis in person helps, since there are all kinds of subtleties going on, and many of them involve ball dynamics in 3D space that don't translate well to a 2D format like television.

A good tennis game manages to find a way to capture some of those subtleties, and allows for tons of different play styles with a different risk/reward ratio. A bad tennis game can feel suspiciously like a more elaborate version of Pong -- and there are a lot of bad tennis games, unfortunately.

Of course, when you watch two defensive players who stay near the baseline, real tennis can seem like Pong too! And that's one of the problems with the modern game, especially on the women's side where it seems like an entire generation of players forgot how to approach the net.

But when you watch, say, Andy Murray vs. Novak Djokovic, a lot of what seems like waffling defensiveness is actually them trying to get the other guy to give them the ball they want, so they can in turn go for a strong, attacking shot with the right risk/reward ratio. (Chess is the same way: between evenly matched opponents it can be a battle of endless maneuvering, waiting for your opponent to make a small positional or tactical error that you can pounce on -- but do so prematurely, and you'll be the one who gets pounced upon!)

Good tennis video games often reward that subtle approach, but it's tricky to get it right: if you can clobber everything all the time, the game is too one-dimensional, but if you have to be in just the right spot to hit big, the game feels contrived. Learning how to hit big without making errors, and figuring out the CPU's weaknesses and exploiting them, is basically the core of a good tennis game. If you can't boil that process down to a single pattern -- if you have to constantly change tactics, and yet still feel like the game is being fair about it -- then you may have a great tennis game on your hands. But I still haven't found one of those, alas.

The sports game genre that I can't get behind is football, but that's not football's fault: I've never really understood the rules, and I certainly don't understand the subtle dynamics of the game. Either way, though, the complexity and aesthetics of your typical football title make me feel like I'm playing a bad strategy/war game with mild action elements: lots of jargon I don't understand, lots of dudes in funny outfits wailing on each other and taking themselves way too seriously, etc. [biggrin]

PSX1
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2014/8/3: Intellivision: Tennis, Championship Tennis, Super Pro Tennis

Postby PSX1 » August 7th, 2014, 4:11 pm

I agree with goldenband and would add the following...

I'm a big sports fan and a big fan of sports video games -- particularly football and basketball -- but tennis was never really on my radar.  ...That was until I played Virtua Tennis for the Dreamcast.  Virtua Tennis would convert any skeptic (including Teddybear) into a fan of tennis video games.  Back when I first bought it for my Dreamcast years ago, I literally had dreams about playing the game when I wasn't playing, and I'd daydream about it when I was awake (very similar to how much older gamers reminisce about Pong playing in their head when they weren't playing it).  Virtua Tennis is the only game, to my recollection, where that has ever happened to me.  Also, thanks to Virtua Tennis, I finally learned the rules of tennis, and now I will sometimes casually watch the sport when it's on TV, and I've even tried playing a few times. 

Virtua Tennis is also one of only about 40 games to which the VGC has given an A+ rating.  It's so good that it truly transcends sports game and I'd recommend it even for non-sports fans.  The series went downhill a bit after the Dreamcast versions, but it's still worth trying one of the later editions if you don't own a Dreamcast.  Virtua Tennis 2K2 on the PS2 is a good super-cheap bet if you don't own a DC, and there's also a couple versions on the PS3 and X360 worth trying.  But for gamers who are new to tennis games, or who don't believe that they can actually be fun for non-tennis fans, then the Virtua Tennis series is definitely the place to start.


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