#16: Super Tennis (1987 Sega)

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We now take a look at Sega’s early line of sports titles, long before the words “Sega” and “Sports” came together to mean quality titles. Basically back in the early days of the SMS, Sega had the idea of releasing sports carts to obvioulsy compete with the NES sports library, and more often than not their first offerings often sported “Great” in the title, trying to send the message that whatever Nintendo did, they could do better. One of said releases was Great Tennis, a Sega Card that was brought across the Pacific as Super Tennis. But if you’ve played Nintendo’s original Tennis cart, you’ve pretty much played this version as well as it’s pretty much the same outdated program.

This is pretty much the entire game in this one screenshot.

This is pretty much the entire game in this one screenshot.

When you boot up the card you have the option to take the court against a CPU opponent in singles or doubles play and you can choose your opponent from five difficulty levels. Yep, the same limited options as the NES cart, and the same basic gameplay pitting you versus the CPU competitor in a best-of-three sets match with your standard tennis action. You lob and smash the ball back and forth with the usual scoring rules in effect and you’re out to be the first win six games to take the set. Winning two out of three sets wins the match, but of course once you finish the match that’s the end of it, there’s no tournaments or anything like that. While this card is a fair yet boring representation of tennis, it does have an interesting quirk. Your characters move at a decent pace across the court but for whatever reason the ball travels in funky angles after it’s hit and you can’t really aim your shots. the ball also travels slowly through the air, and because of that it’s not unusual to have several swings at the ball before it drops to the ground, and there’s some issue with collision detection as well. Plus there’s a few issues wiht serving, so expect to score a couple of faults before you really get the hang of it. A second player can join you for the doubles match but you’re both force to be on the same team to play the computer opponents together and there’s no head-to-head gameplay in either the singles or doubles mode, so that limits that feature as well.

I'd say double the fun but that would be multiflying 2 X 0.

I’d say double the fun but that would be multiplying 2 X 0.

Going along with the dull gameplay, there isn’t much to say about the visuals or audio either. The court and players are all there is to see for the most part, and while the characters aren’t that bad, the playing surface doesn’t have the most appealing look to it. In fact if you compare it side-by-side with Nintendo’s offering, you’ll find very little differences between them, which is odd considering the Master System is “supposed” to offer superior visuals to its Nintendo counterpart. In addition there’s no background music during the action, just some peppy tune on the title screen, but plenty of bad sound effects abound, especially when the ball is in flight.

Ultimately Super Tennis falls into the same trap as many other first-run sports games; it was fine for its time but has been far suprassed by plenty of other better tennis games available for the SMS. With very little to offer other than the basic stuff, there’s simply no reason to serve this one up.

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