The great English sporting event of the year. Wimbledon with strawbs 'n cream, is upon us. As with footy games. a spate of tennis releases are here: International 3D Tennis from Palace is the latest.
The time-honoured option screen starts you off. Choose a one or two player game (single matches), or for greater challenge either Tournament or Season mode, plus four skill levels: Novice, Semi-Pro, Pro and Ace.
The difficulty levels greatly affect how the game is played. Many games are frustrating because you can't move fast enough to hit the ball. On Novice level. you don't have to run at all! The computer moves you into position whilst a flashing block tells you when to press the fire button, all you do is decide the power of the shot etc. Whichever option you choose, the game content remains the same: two stick figures stride out onto the court and whack a small yellow ball over a net.
Tournament or Season mode your progress depends on how much dosh you win. If you're knocked out of a match early you only gain a few thousand dollars. If you survive you could be a millionaire and up with the likes of Becker and Lendl before you know it.
The game kicks off with a nice title tune (in 128k mode) and the choice of options is impressive. But the sprites are very basic, small stick men indeed - once you get used to that it's the playability and accuracy of International 3-D Tennis that makes it a real and impressive simulation. Even after Wimbledon you'll be back to play again!
'A very sporty month! I've been playing football all morning and now a relaxing game of tennis. International 3-D Tennis is... different, like tennis in Freescape, the programming method used in Driller and Castle Master. The players look a bit odd - they have triangular heads, bodies made from lines and sway from side to side all the time. The court is also drawn in lines, which can make things difficult to decipher at times. The audio side is really good with tunes galore including a groovy rendition of the TV tennis theme! This is more of a novelty game than one you really get into. I prefer having players look like the real thing! But it you're after a real tennis simulator, this is the best to get!'
NICK ... 76%
I was wretched, I was miserable, I was bored. Then I got this call from Matt. "Fancy a game of tennis?" he shouted down the crackling line. "S'pose so," I yelled back. "Who's playing?" "Oh, nobody special," came the enigmatic reply. "Just a bunch of triangles."
Tennis. A national sport since 1793 and played by masters all over the world - Lendl, McEnroe, Becker and, erm... triangles. Why? Because International 3D Tennis features exactly that - 3D accurate enough to send your Speccy into overdrive. It can just about cope with the court, it can just about manage to give you six different views of the action (four aerial and two side-on) but throw in a couple of realistic sprites as well and it turns into a quivering wreck. Yup, triangles are the only alternative. Obviously.
Oddly enough, these weird Toblerone-people are actually very spunkily animated. They hurl themselves into backhands, forehands and volleys with exactly the kind of grace and style you'd expect from highly intelligent geometric shapes. When you're thumping the ball about it honestly doesn't make much difference that they haven't got a face. Shut your eyes and you can't even tell.
But I'm rushing ahead as usual. First off, it's decision time. You can take part in an official tournament (hard), try your hand at amassing a huge wad of prize dosh in a season of tournaments (well hard) or just a one-off game (easy-ish). All matches are singles (one or two-player) and can run to one, three or a whopping five sets. There are four skill levels, 15 artificial opponents and four different surfaces - grass, cement, clay or carpet (yes, folks, it's true, tennis really is played on carpet). As for the psychedelic selection of court colours, well, there's blue, blue or blue.
It was on court, funnily enough, that something very unusual happened to me early on. I hit the ball. Well may you snigger, but it normally takes time to get used to the controls of a tennis game. 3D Tennis is different. You're automatically positioned in line with the ball so all you have to do is time your shot and stand the right distance away from the net. Slick, easy, fun. On Amateur and Semi-Pro there's even a flashing silver bar to let you know exactly when to hit the ball. So for smarmy smart-asses who want to control their own service and spin, Pro and Ace are best.
Once you've got into the swing of serving and spinning, all these natty options and nuances of control make for a rather juicy kind of match. As for the 3D, you don't really need it - I'd rather have had a bit more speed. Yes, you get six different viewpoints and very nice they look too, but I didn't use them much. It's a lot easier to judge shots on the boring old traditional display.
So there you have it. A very versatile tennis game that's easy to play, dimensionally spiffy, but just slightly too sluggish. If Wimbledon's your thang, suck it and see.
Tennis games, eh? Don't you just LOVE em? I always try to NET 'em when they come OUT cos they've got that ADVANTAGE over other sports sims. You just can't FAULT 'em etc, etc. Sorry, was that a bit tacky? (Uh huh. Ed).
Ahem. Anyway, if you can ignore both the hideous crippled hunchback on the cover and the efficiency with which this release has managed to completely miss Wimbledon, you'll actually find rather a funky little game in here. You may remember it from a couple of years ago - it caused quite a bit of bemusement with its spooky triangle people from hell replacing the usual player sprites. Actually these vector chappies and chappesses are one of the game's high points cos they're so crap. They look like Fingermouse on steroids as they drunkenly around the court and slowly belabour each other about the head with their racquets at the end of a match. Still, you hardly notice how unconvincing they are when you're busy trying to take your opponent's pointy head off with a 140mph service There are loads of fiddly options as well - ten camera angles, 72 tournaments (but just eight on 48K), seasons to play etc. So what if some of the graphics are Freescape (™) rejects? So what if the crowd sound like several people spitting down bamboo tubes? So what if you get beaten by a bloke called C Steeb? I hate tennis and I had a great laugh.
Therwunk! Tennis eh? No longer a game for delicate girls in short skirts. No longer a jolly-hockeysticks, never-mind-who-wins sort of affair. These days it's a gladitorial battle between two hyped-up short-fused mega athletes; all sweat and swearing. Much better.
If you fancy the chance of playing 64 of the world's top players, scooping a big bag of cash and maybe even winning Wimbledon, Palace's 3D INTERNATIONAL TENNIS is the game for you.
Where many tennis games in the past have looked rather elegant and played like a daisy-chain championship, 3D Tennis offers the excitement of centre-court Wimbledon action, coupled with the fiscal lure of the major tournaments around the world.
Now, trying to capture the thrills and spills of a high-adrenalin tennis match with men made out of wire frame triangles may seem like a bit of a tall order, but Palace has come up trumps.
There are four skill levels available; Amateur, Semi-Pro, Pro and Ace. Choosing a higher skill level gives you more control over your shots. It also means that you have to do more work if you're to make a successful hit.
On Amateur level, the computer serves automatically once you've hit fire. Each time the ball is returned by your opponent (computer or human controlled) your man will flash indicating when to play your shot. Until you've got to grips with judging distances, it's an absolute boon.
Semi Pro level retains the flashing utility, but instead of an auto-serve, you have the option to determine the angle and strength of the shot.
Professional only retains the serve control while Ace offers both serve control and a spin facility (forward on the stick for topspin, back for backspin).
Why, then, should one bother to weigh in against Professional level opponents, with relatively little computer support? Why not stay as an amateur and take all the help you can get? Money. That's why. Unless you're prepared to play at the higher levels, you won't get into the big tournaments, and so you can't scoop the big prize money.
In fact, quite separate to the on-court action, there's a strategy game incorporated; you dart all over the world, picking the tournaments which will pay best (is it worth entering a match with a huge first prize but relatively little cash until you reach the semi finals if you're only starting your professional career?) and gradually amassing a huge pot of cash.
The gameplay and graphics (though simplistic) are superb. The animation of the characters is fab. And the gameplay is simply the business. You can determine the computer's ability should you find it a unequal to yours, and even the most rank amateur alter the parameters to get a damned good match.
3D Tennis is utterly superb. It's packed with action, but still retains some skillful elements. Go out and buy it, and you'll be on the centre court at Wimbledon before you can say "chalk dust".
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
It's that time of the year; the time when those white shirts and shorts are dug out of the back of the wardrobe and folk all over the place take to the courts for a nice, relaxing game of tennis.
Apart from the pros that is, who fight tooth a nail to make an absolute fortune from the game. International 3D Tennis gives you a first-hand look at professional tennis, in a way never before seen. Programmed by Sensible Software, the development team who first shocked the world with the amazing Wizball and are currently doing very nicely thank you out of their latest footballing bonanza, Sensible Soccer on the Amiga. International 3D Tennis takes the player through an entire pro season, with massive amounts of prize money to be won for the best of the best - and even a bit of dosh if you're totally useless!
As the title suggests, the game is viewed in second-person perspective 3D, with the characters being picked out in wire-frame graphics. While this may sound a little odd, this style does allow for extremely impressive animation. You don't have to play from just one view, either; International 3D Tennis gives budding Beckers and aspiring Agassis a choice of ten different angles, letting you see the action from anywhere on the court!
The rules of tennis have been implemented to the letter - each game is won by winning four points; fifteen, thirty, forty and the game point. A player must win six games to win the set, with a margin of two games between winner and loser. Playing an entire season takes the player to various tournaments around the world, with the aim of getting to and winning the final firmly fixed in your mind.
Unfortunately, the season option is unavailable to 48K Spectrum owners, but the game itself is so good, those of you with little Speccies simply won't mind.
International 3D Tennis is a fantastic tennis simulation, with controls that are easy to learn yet give a massive amount of play options, you can even add spin to the ball! The different views, while adding little to the overall playability, are a great touch nonetheless and the 3D graphics are fast and great to watch. It's game, set and match to International 3D Tennis!
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Alan Dykes
GARTH: I'm tennis mad, me! As soon as I see those little green balls I just have to hit em. International 3D Tennis is the best example of the game I've seen on Spectrum and there have been some average to good ones out. Get this game if you're even remotely interested in chalk dust and Robinsons Barley Water.
Total 3D experience from Palace.
Here Palace up the stakes with a revolutionary new system which rotates and tilts the court as you make your shots.
There is a price to be paid for this enhancement, however - the players turn out to be wire-frame stick-people of indeterminate sex.
But the benefits more than outweigh the limitations. It enables you to have much more control over the ball - including top spin and back spin - and to get into and enjoy those rallies to a much greater extent.
The game features lots of other options and extra's - as you would expect from programmers Sensible Software (Microprose Soccer, Wizball). There are four skill levels to play against an opponent, or the computer: Amateur, Semi-Pro, Pro and Ace. Ace is where all game play options are switched on - it's also quicker, with a greater variety of shots at your disposal and - most importantly - you are also playing for money.
The money side of things provides for a sub game of some merit. You have to decide which tournaments to compete in and work out your likelihood of taking home a cash prize if all of the serious money is riding on the winner and runner up.
3D International Tennis represents the most innovative approach to computer tennis for years. This is praiseworthy in itself but what is even better is that all of its radical ideas are made to work. Highly playable and addictive.
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