Game: Pro Tennis World Court
Release date: 1988
Pro Tennis World Court is widely known–to 16-bit afficionados, at least–as “the tennis RPG.” There’s a good reason for that: Along with the expected singles and doubles modes, this Namcot-published game features a “quest” mode that tasks players with wandering the Final Fantasy-esque lands of the creatively named (or not) “Tennis Kingdom” in search of the “Evil Tennis King.” (I’m not making this up–check out this blog post for more on this title’s sad excuse for a backstory.) Before you can challenge this lizard-like baddie (he’s green) to a Nadal-Federer-ish face-off, you’ll have to vanquish a number of his minions in tennis matches of varying lengths. You’ll also have to upgrade your equipment (rackets, shoes and shirts–which boost your power, foot speed and ability to refuse challenges, respectively) using the winnings you receive after beating the aforementioned, randomly-encountered foes. All in all, it’s an enjoyably unique, if slightly unpolished (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you approach your first NPC), experience. You’ll have to be patient if you want to eke every last ounce of fun out of the game, though, as it starts rather slowly. Thankfully, things speed up appreciably once you update your gear a bit. Even then, Pro Tennis World Court (World Court Tennis in the States) never feels quite as slick as another well-known PC Engine title featuring fuzzy, yellow balls–Final Match Tennis–but its quirkiness at least partially makes up for it.
See also: Previous PCE Reviews
Boot up a copy of Namco(t)’s World Court Tennis and choose the title’s (in)famous “Quest” mode and you’ll come face to face with what could very well be the worst example of translated text in all of videogamedom.
Don’t believe me? Decide for yourself.
“I’ve been waiting for you. I’m a king of tennis kingdom. Would you do me a favor?
“My country has been peaceful. Everyone loved tennis. But it’s all over. Evil tennis king appeared. He took treasures of the royals. And snatched the tennis courts. People can’t play tennis and are complaining.
“Beat the king of tennis and bring back peace.”
I’m not sure which line I like better: “I’m a king of tennis kingdom” or “Evil tennis king has appeared.” Both deserve points for abruptness and awkwardness, don’t you think?
See also: ‘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.