Thursday 6 August 2015

International Tennis Open (Philips CD-i review)

Developer: Infogrames
Publisher: Philips Interactive Media
Released: 1992


International Tennis Open was one of ten Philips CD-i games developed by Infogrames.

You can choose either a Single Match (on grass, clay or hard surface), Training (practice serving or returning balls from a machine) or a Tournament. In the latter you can play in New York, Paris or London and you automatically start in the Quarter Finals of each. The video footage showing your opponent and the location is cheesy but it's a nice touch and adds to the good overall presentation of the game. On the court the first thing you'll notice is the unusual serving mechanics. After pressing the 1 button a crosshair moves into your opponent's side of the court and you need to move it to your desired location before hitting the same button to serve. It does take some getting used to but it works well and shows minor innovation. Unfortunately the rest of the action doesn't fare so well. The controls are sluggish, especially when moving your player around, and trying to reach for balls hit at a sharp angle is a real struggle. The long game is awful and it's too hard to hit shots past your opponent. Eventually you'll resort to the short game but it's equally as bad as volleys are so slow that the CPU has no problem returning it time and time again. The animation is another weak point; the players have been digitised but they look like a couple of drunkards trying to step over hot coal! Also, if you look closely the ball never actually hits the racket which is very sloppy. Each character sprite is exactly the same so even if you're playing against someone with blonde hair it will turn black during gameplay. The SFX are superb though with realistic grunts and good quality calls from the umpire and commentator.

With International Tennis Open it's blatantly obvious that too much time was spent focussing on the presentation / multimedia rather than the actual gameplay. The window dressing is fantastic but the action on the court is so unpolished that it makes it impossible to recommend.

Random trivia: The game was also released for the PC, Macintosh and MS-DOS.

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