So many of the better games this summer seem to be sports simulations of the active kind rather than the strategic armchair sort, of which type Match Point is a supreme example. We've come to expect rather special programs from Psion and Match Point doesn't disappoint. It points up the advances in Spectrum programming which underlines to some extent comments made by Crystal/Design Design programmer Simon Brattel in this issue about the versatility of the video display of the Spectrum encouraging programmers to write better and better looking programs. Match Point would have been almost inconceivable this time last year, so too would Database's Micro Olympics.
There is an arcade version of tennis which does look good, but apart from the coloured sprites of the players there is little that Psion's Match Point can't do to match the arcade original, and in fact the perspective view is more realistic.
The game is for one player against the computer or two players against each other, although the flexible front end allows you to enter not only your own name but also that of the computer so if you want to you can have the thrill of beating McEnroe (or being beaten by him of course!) or Navratilova if you prefer.
The screen display, prominently green naturally, shows the tennis court from the 'commentators' box' position, looking straight along the centre of the court from one end. At the 'back' is the scoreboard, and to either side are spectators who convincingly turn their heads to follow the movement of the ball. The two players are fully animated and the movement of the ball results in its shadow being seen on the grass to help you judge its position. Further detail is added by the ball boy who runs in to collect net serves.
Games and scoring are quite authentic for lawn tennis, a match being played over three or five sets with the winner being the player to win either 2 or 3 sets respectively. Six games make up a set, the winner having a clear lead of 2 games, although a tie-break comes in automatically should the score reach six games each, except in the final set when play continues until one player achieves a two game lead. As you can see, stamina is required. Game scoring follows full rules including deuce and advantage. Players change ends of court automatically at the correct moment and service follows the accepted pattern.
The game can be controlled by keys or joysticks with fire being used to serve and change racket swing. The movement, speed and position of the ball can be determined by type of swing, where the ball hits the racket and at what moment during the swing the contact is made. All this adds up to an extremely realistic program.
Control keys: selected: (2 players) S or J/D or K move left/right, 1 or 0/Q or O move up/down, CAPS/SPACE swing racket. But all keys may be user defined
Joystick: ZX 2, Kempston
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: sensibly used without attribute problems
Graphics: very impressive, smooth and fast with a deal of realism
Sound: not much at all, but hardly affects play
Skill levels: you may play quarter, semi- or finals, entering at any level, each increasing in speed and computer skill
Originality: highly original from the programming point of view to have achieved the level of this game
'At last someone has had the guts to reproduce the game of tennis on the Spectrum, and they have made an exceptionally good job of it. Every detail has been really polished even down to the spectators' heads moving left and right with the ball. Ball boys do a great job as they run realistically across the court. This must be the ultimate yet in sports simulation. A great feat of programming. Great!'
'Match Point is an interactive tennis game where the players move about and hit the ball very well. A point against the game is that the automatic change from forehand to backhand and vice versa can cause more problems than it's worth. I would prefer to be in complete control. Forced changeovers can cause problems! Generally, though, this is a very playable and addictive game. It is certainly a vast leap over the very first tennis games. Remember them - the first TV arcade games with two flat bats and a ball in black and white?'
'If you become worn out - and you will - then you can sit back and watch the computer play an exhibition match played by middle, senior or top seeded tennis stars until you feel well enough to take the court again. The colouring of the graphics is sensible rather than exciting, black figures on the green background, but the animation and speed with which they move more than makes up for any disappointment caused by Spectrum colour problems. Match Point calls for considerable skill in placing the ball where you want just as in the real thing, and I can't imagine anyone becoming bored with it very quickly. Addictive in fact.'
|Use of Computer||87%|
|Value For Money||86%|
Use of Computer: 87%
Getting Started: 87%
Addictive Qualities: 92%
Value for Money: 86%
Match Point is a 3D tennis simulation that can be played with one or two players. The view of the green court is from the commentator's box. At the back of the court is the scoreboard showing all the relevant details about games, sets and matches. On the eight hand side of the court is the umpire and on either side of the net are the ball boys.
The game closely follows the rules of lawn tennis, a match being played over three or five sets and the winner winning two or three sets respectively. You must win at least 6 games and have a two game lead to win a set. If both players win six games then a tie break comes into being automatically except in the final set when play continues until one player has at least a two game lead. Scoring, changing ends and service all follow the accepted rules of lawn tennis.
The game can be controlled by either keys or joysticks, the fire button being used to serve, to change racket swing and hit the ball. The height of the ball and its speed are determined by how the ball is hit and with what swing.
Match Point was incredibly advanced for its time, it still outshines many of today's sports simulations. The graphics and animation of the players and the ball are superb, the only niggle being on first playing the game you tend to think there are two balls because of the shadow. There isn't much sound but you get so engrossed that you forget all about it. Quite a bit of skill is required to gain full control over your character but as with all games practice makes perfect. If you like sports simulations then this is certainly worth buying.
Match Point is THE tennis simulation for the Spectrum. Even by today's standards it is a very good game. The graphics are excellent and put many recently released simulations to shame. It takes a while to get used to the way you control your character but once you have sussed it out it becomes quite easy. Addictive qualities are quite hard to judge on sports simulations of this kind because you can play two player games which means that you can always have plenty of competition but if your opponent is useless at the game then you can get bored of it. Of course you can play against the computer but it is only a matter of time before you can beat it on the harder levels of play. Match Point should go down as one of the Spectrum classics, it is a pity that Psion don't release more games.
(Rob) Looking at the rating now I am tempted to put the Use of Computer up by about 5% because you can cater for most joysticks with user definable keys. I am also tempted to put the Overall up by about 2% because I think it is a great game that is well worth buying.
(Lloyd) I wouldn't quarrel with the ratings at all, Match Point is simply a classic!
ANYONE FOR TENNIS?
WIMBLEDON has gone and strawberries are out of season but the Psion Match Point tennis game for the 48K Spectrum will be popular all the year round.
The simulation has more than the classic quality and style of Chequered Flag, the Psion racing game, and provides some of the most spectacular graphics for the Spectrum.
The screen display shows Centre Court at Wimbledon. The panorama provides a view of the net, umpire, crowds moving their heads, and even the benches on which the players sit after a game.
You can play either a quarter-final or semi-final if you are inexperienced, or a final if you want to be thrashed soundly by the other player. If you have no human friend with whom you can play, the computer will always be on hand for a game.
When you start to play you may have difficulty distinguishing between the ball and its shadow. Once you have played a few games, however, the effect falls into place and adds a three-dimensional quality to the game. The shadow of the ball is the only unrealistic feature of the display as, in real life, the players cast the shadows and not the ball.
Psion can be forgiven for introducing the shadow, as the game outclasses most other sports programs for the computer. Unlike most of the other games available it can be described as a true simulation.
It is a game for all the family and not only for the sports enthusiast. Although it does not replace the real thing it is a worthwhile program, as it is a simulation which provides an exhibition mode which you can sit and watch while two computer-generated players go through the motions. It might even teach the beginner something about the skills required in the game.
Joystick: Sinclair, Kempston, Cursor
Available on Game, Set and Match
Amstrad, £12.95cs, £17.95dk
C64, £12.95cs, £17.95dk
Not a game to be loaded up lightly, this racket-wrangler features three of the toughest opponents this side of Wimbledon. Viewed in 3D from one end of the court, the action is trickiness itself as you struggle to position yourself properly and time your swing just right. Its not enough to reach and hit the ball you've got to try hitting it away from the computer player, and that takes vast amounts of practice. Very frustrating stuff, especially for those games where you're playing at the far end: try the two-player option if you'd like to win now and then!
(Sinclair/Kempston joystick compatible)
By the time you read this, the Wimbledon fortnight will be over. But if the sight those tennis champs has inspired you to take up this noble sport, why not have a practice sessions sin is latest release from Psion before you venture onto the real court?
Match Point is destined to become a sports simulation, bound for the high reaches of the C&VG Top 30. The graphics, although fairly simple, are excellent and the program extremely well designed.
There are several game options, including exhibition level and to Wimbledon quarter final status. At the start of each game, you can select which of the many options you want to play from the well presented and easy to understand menu screen.
The court is presented in 3D perspective style. The players are represented by fairly simple black graphic figures - but their movement is smooth and realistic. The movement as each player serves is a programming gem - smooth and accurate.
At the back of the court is a Wimbledon style scoreboard, complete with player names which you can input at the start of each game.
Scoring is exactly the same as the real game, complete with tie-breaks. Captions at the bottom of the screen provide further information on the game as you play. For example, the message "First Service" comes up if you fluff a serve, or the message "Out" if you go too wild. And there's no arguing with this umpire!
You can play the computer or a human opponent over 3-5 sets, again just like the real game.
I played using the Spectrum keyboard - but a joystick would be a real asset. You just can't move your fingers fast enough when going for that crucial winning point!
Having said that, there is the facility to redefine the keys should you want to try out another configuration.
Overall, Match Point is an extremely well presented and executed piece software which ensures Psion's reputation as a purveyor of good quality games.
One minor criticism - when playing for the first time, I thought there were two balls in play, until I realised that one ball was in fact a shadow on the floor of the court as the real ball bounced around between the players. A little confusing, but not enough to stop this becoming a seller!
MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
CONTROL: Sinc, Kemp, Keys
FROM: Psion, £7.95
I clearly remember the awesome feeling I experienced ten years ago when I saw my first ever tennis video game. A white line down the middle, which was the net, a little white square, which was the ball, and two little white lines at either end which were you and your opponent. You moved them up and down to keep the ball bouncing round the court, Ping... ping... ping... ping... Wow ! - wasn't it tremendous!!
Now Psion have gone and ruined the fun. This isn't a game - it's the real thing. No longer can you enjoy imagining the crowd there cheering you on - you actually see them, yes, complete with heads turning left and right as the ball bounces across the court.
Instead of a line you have an actual player, scurrying around the court with impressive animation.
The action is taken from a Wimbledon of the future where jumbo-rackets have been replaced by mega-rackets - the racket head is about half the size of the player. This is very useful if you want to actually hit the ball.
Making a stroke takes a little practice: you should stand waiting for the ball with your racket stuck out to the right (forehand position if you're right-handed) or to the left (backhand). As the ball comes over the net you move into position by running forward, back, left or right. Then at the right moment you swing the racket. Pow! The ball zings back over the net.
Because of the follow-through, every time the 'swing racket' key is pressed, the racket changes from forehand to backhand position, or vice versa. This means that if the ball is speeding the wrong side of you, you can execute a quick swing of the racket to your other side and then swing again to make contact.
The ball itself appears to have been in use an awfully long time, because it's black. But it moves beautifully around the court complete with a shadow to reveal its height. So you can tell when your shot is going to hit the net. And just watch when it does - a ball-boy runs onto the court and picks up the ball! This is one sight that's good for a giggle.
The game instructions say that it's possible to alter both the direction and pace of your shot, according to the timing of your swing, and whether you're moving when you hit the ball.
I found this took considerable practice to achieve intentionally. But its remarkable how well the spirit of the game is captured. You can rush to the net, put in a couple of sharp volleys, strain to avoid being passed, and then wrong-foot your opponent.
The program's attention to detail is also impressive - you can play either against the computer, or against another human. The game is scored authentically, including tie-breaks if a set reaches 6-all.
Serving alternates correctly, and the players even change ends every two games, although fortunately they skip their one-minute rests.
You can play one, three or five-set matches, and there are three levels of play - quarter-finals, semis, and the final. On the higher levels the ball moves faster.
I have to admit it, my 1974 version of video tennis has been improved upon. Game, set and match to Psion... but I wonder what computer tennis will be like in 1994?
The Psion sales team have a problem to combat with Match Point, which has nothing to do with the quality of the program. It is simply that, until now, tennis programs on the Spectrum have been very bad and experience leads Spectrum owners to be wary.
These fears, though, are totally unjustified. Match Point is an excellent game which puts most sport simulations into the shade, and places other tennis simulations firmly at the bottom of a large scrap heap.
The animation is excellent, and an extra dimension is added by a shadow beneath the tennis ball. Flicker-free characters move smoothly across the screen, and the only flaws in the realism occur when players are changing ends of court, a process which is best passed over as quickly as possible.
Options allow you to play in the quarter-finals, semi-finals or finals at Wimbledon, and long hours of practice will be needed before any player beats the computer in the final. Forehands, backhands, carefully angled shots and speed are all present as they would be in a real game.
Definitely another winner for Psion, Match Point is marketed by Sinclair Research Ltd and costs £7.95.
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