Let’s play tennis on the PC Engine!

In honor of this weekend’s French Open finals (vamos Rafa!), I thought I’d post mini-reviews of three of the PC Engine’s four tennis games.

1. Pro Tennis World Court (Namco, 1988)–One of the earliest PC Engine releases, if I’m not mistaken, Pro Tennis World Court deserves a few minutes of your time simply because it was the first (and last?) tennis game to include an RPG mode.

2. Final Match Tennis (Human, 1991)–Pro Tennis World Court may be unique, but in truth it isn’t a very good game. Final Match Tennis, on the other hand, is a *great* game. It’s as pick-up-and-play as you can get (each player has just two shots; typically a flat shot and a slice or a flat and a topspin shot) and it’s super fast–faster than any other tennis game I’ve played, in fact. Check it out if you like arcade-style sports games. (Oh, and if you’d rather control female tennis players, pick up a copy of 1992’s Human Sports Festival.)

3. Power Tennis (Hudson, 1993)–Well, this is a disappointment, isn’t it? Sure, it looks OK in screenshots, but in motion the game is a complete mess–with sloppy controls and (overly) challenging opponents. My suggestion: Take a pass on this sucker unless it’s absolutely free.

What’s the fourth PC Engine tennis game? Micro World’s Davis Cup Tennis. For some odd reason, I’ve never played it–or even contemplated playing it. The Brothers Duomazov‘s IvaNEC has me reconsidering that stance, though.

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9 responses to “Let’s play tennis on the PC Engine!

  1. I wish that World Court’s gameplay were more like Final Match’s and that its RPG mode were as entertaining as Final Lap Twin’s. That combination would’ve made for a fantastic game.

    Davis Cup is indeed my favorite tennis game. One strange thing to note about it is that it was released as a TurboChip in the US but as a Super CD in Japan (where it was called The Davis Cup Tennis). Same story with Andre Panza Kick Boxing and The Kick Boxing.

  2. You know what, IvaNEC? I actually like the gameplay in World Court. Sure, it’s pretty bad at the beginning (your character is too slow, isn’t powerful enough, etc.), but after you’ve upgraded your equipment a few times it becomes quite fun (IMO). It’s still miles away from Final Match, of course, but it’s also miles better than Power Tennis (yuck!).

    I can’t argue with you about the RPG mode, though. I’ve heard the Japanese version is a bit better in this regard, though — Is that true?

    RE: Davis Cup Tennis — I’ll have to give it a try after I get the CD attachment for my PC Engine. I wonder why they put it on a CD in Japan — did they improve anything in the process, or did they just do it because nearly all games at that point were on CD (in Japan)?

  3. “You know what, IvaNEC? I actually like the gameplay in World Court. Sure, it’s pretty bad at the beginning (your character is too slow, isn’t powerful enough, etc.), but after you’ve upgraded your equipment a few times it becomes quite fun (IMO).”

    The better equipment helps for sure, but like you indicated, it still doesn’t come close to its quality contemporaries like Final Match; and even when I had the best items in hand, I absolutely hated switching sides during the boss matches because the gameplay particularly stinks when you’re forced to play at the top (at least for me it did).

    “I can’t argue with you about the RPG mode, though. I’ve heard the Japanese version is a bit better in this regard, though — Is that true?”

    I don’t have the Japanese version yet, unfortunately, so I can’t say.

    “I wonder why they put it on a CD in Japan — did they improve anything in the process, or did they just do it because nearly all games at that point were on CD (in Japan)?”

    Yeah, I imagine that they did it because the trend by that time in Japan was to go with CDs over cards. As for changes/improvements, the to-the-point answer is they hardly did anything in Tennis’ case, but if you’d like some specifics, I have write-ups for the CD versions of Davis Cup and Kick Boxing over on Duomazov. (They did a little more with KB than with DCT.)

  4. Oh, you’re 100% correct that playing on the far side of the court in World Court is more challenging (or at least different) than playing on the near side. I’ve never had a particularly hard time adjusting to it, but I can understand why many would.

    RE: your reviews of Davis Cup and Kick Boxing — I’ll read them later tonight. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  5. BTW, here’s the review that suggests the RPG mode (or, at least, the dialog in the RPG mode) is better in the Japanese version of Pro Tennis World Court — http://magweasel.com/2009/06/23/i-love-the-pc-engine-pro-tennis-world-court/

  6. Magweasel has proven to be reliable about stuff like that, so I wouldn’t doubt his report. Final Lap Twin’s script probably underwent some alterations as well, but thankfully, it came out of the process all right. It seems like they put no effort into WCT’s at all; the dialogue is pathetic.

    WCT does have one classic line though: the Devil Tennis King’s “SURPRISES!” That’s how Zig and I always greet each other: “SURPRISES! It’s me!” So the WCT script did indeed earn its own little niche in history.

  7. Ha ha! Actually, I think the opening story is a classic, too. (Maybe I should post that in its entirety this weekend?) You’re right about (most of) the rest of WCT’s script, though — complete trash. Still, I can’t help but play through the game from time to time. I think it’s because of the quick “battles.” Of course, I have ADD when it comes to gaming these days…

  8. Roger

    In terms of fun, Final Match Tennis is in fact still the best tennis game to this very day! The only real challenger is Virtua Tennis on Dreamcast. FMT is a real party game as it should be. It is still a favorite choice for me and my friends for a exiting game evening.

  9. Hey there, Roger — thanks for the comment! Yes, I can see how you would find FMT to be among the best tennis games ever. It’s fast and fun and easy to play — what more could you want, other than maybe a more robust world-tour or character-building mode?

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