Back in the halcyon days of the early nineties, half of the games that came out on the SNES were prefixed with the word ‘Super’. Super Star Wars, Super Bomberman, Super Soaker, Super Souper (a fascinating game regarding the Irish Famine, look it up). The list was endless. It was a simple time for simple people and I should know. In fact, I’m old enough to remember that Super Tennis was one such game. It was glorious and I so wish that I could play it again- what’s that you say? Super Tennis is available on the Switch and it needs to be reviewed?! Aw hell yeah!
It was only after signing the review contract that I discovered that this was NOT the same Super Tennis. You cannot be serious! Oh well, tennis games have come on a lot since those days. I’m sure it’ll be just fine…right?
Before proceeding further with the gameplay review, let’s just run over some basic definitions:
Super – Very good or pleasant; excellent.
Tennis – A game in which two or four players strike a ball with rackets over a net stretched across a court.
So, I’ve asked myself, having dedicated a couple of hours of time to this game…what part of Super Tennis is super, and what part of it involves me playing tennis? A better name would have been Unexceptional Button Input or Inferior Quick Time Event.
Simply put, you will not be playing tennis here. You’ll be watching a screen where two characters hit a ball between each other on a tennis court. You will not move either character. You do not, in fact, even need to really look at the characters.
Your job is merely to look at the line of button inputs that appear on the screen in front of the court and press them. If you press the buttons in the right order, your player will return the ball. The other player will then hit it back. You then press the buttons in the right order and return the ball. With each successful row of inputs, you fill a meter a little bit more and after doing this enough times, you’ll ‘win’ the match. Miss two inputs in a row and your tennis career is over. Fail to input anything and you get the same result.
There are a good number of cups (you’ll play multiple ‘matches’ each cup) and the weather changes on the more difficult courts to up the challenge. Fog, for example, causes the inputs to fade away shortly after appearing, whilst lightning causes a flash of white light to cut across the screen and obscures inputs briefly in a sort of..really annoying way.
If you get bored of the cups, you can have the pleasure of playing the infinite ‘world ranking match’ mode and seeing how many returns you can rack up in a row. Minutes of fun for all the family.
And that’s it – that’s the game. It’s like two people sat down next to each other with one lamenting to the other ‘you know what – I really like the quick time input routine of Heavy Rain, but I can’t be doing with any semblance of a story at all’, with the friend wistfully smiling in reply ‘I know just how you feel; I love the look of 2D tennis games, but just cannot fathom why anyone would actually like to play them…hold on…are you thinking what I’m thinking?’.
If you’re going to use the title Super Tennis, you could at least pay homage to the SNES and make the graphics 16-bit, right? Ha, psych that’s the wrong (bit) number! They’re 8-bit styled.
In fairness, the graphics are, at the least, fun and colourful – the courts include everything from traditional grass and clay offerings to aircraft carriers, the Grand Canyon and Area 51. There are also a number of unlockable characters that you gain as you win cups and progress (examples including a Buckingham Place guard and a human fly). They’re amusing, I suppose, but neither they nor the courts have any effect on the gameplay whatsoever. It’s all just an illusion of progression. On the plus side, you can switch the different body parts up and have the head of a bulldog and the flannel shirt of a truck driver. If you want that.
Let’s be real though, the 8-bit graphics haven’t been chosen for stylistic purposes; they’ve been chosen because they’re easy to create. Heck, give me Microsoft Paint and a spare half hour and I’ll knock out another ten unlockables. It’s an art style that is becoming a bit done to death.
Believe it or not, this game has commentary! I’ll run down some quotes:
‘Today we’ll see two phenomenal players who are best of the best’.
‘The novice has the victory’.
Wait a minute, am I the best of the best or a novice? And I haven’t even won yet. The game is still going on. He’s returned the ball! Is this commentator on somethi-
‘What a power of accuracy!’
…that’s not even correct English, you damn fool!
Thankfully, there’s the option to turn this off in the settings. Excellent decision.
The rest of the audio is what you’d expect – fake crowd noises, appropriate thwacking when the ball is hit, and a reasonably tasty 60’s style organ/string bass midi ditty that plays on the menu screen. All perfectly reasonable and what I’d expect from a game of the genre you’d think this is.
Super Tennis is currently selling for $5.99 (basically the best part of a fiver in UK money). I reckon it’d probably hold your attention for an hour tops unless you’re really into hand-to-eye coordination and going for a high score. If you are, you’d probably find yourself coming back to this to kill a few minutes every now and then. Alternatively, for £5 you could treat yourself to a nice sandwich, or half a haircut. I, myself, picked up a copy of the 10th Anniversary cast edition of Les Miserables (double DVD special edition!) brand new for £4.50 today. It has more replay value.
Indeed, if you want to have the experience of Super Tennis for free, the summer sports season is not far away. Why not simply put the telly on to BBC1 and sit back and enjoy Wimbledon, Switch controller in hand, whilst your best friend signals random buttons for you to press and your mum shouts things like ‘a perfect ball to do anything!’ over and over again.
I honestly don’t like ragging on games because people put time and creative effort into making them. I prefer to see the positives. As such, in concluding this review, I will list some. I think the art style is simple but effective and that the game is very clean looking, the music and sound effects are fine (minus the commentary), and everything runs smoothly. Nor do I consider that Polish developer, Ultimate Games, are a set of wrong ‘uns (how could one say that about the developers of the popular Ultimate Fishing Simulator!). This is, however, simply a bad concept for a game.
People buy tennis games because they think they’ll be playing tennis, and I’d hate to think that someone bought Super Tennis on that basis (like myself!) only to discover that they’d bought a different product entirely. People deserve better for their money and this developer is clearly capable of better. I declare Super Tennis OUT! Game, Set and Match – 6-love, 6-love, 6-love.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.
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