David Crane means a lot to us at Arcade Attack for many reasons, so we really wanted to love this game… In true DC style, innovation is key to David Crane’s Amazing Tennis. Rather than opt for the standard tennis sim viewed from above the court (where the sprites are the same size), the camera for this game is at court level behind the player. But for every “wow” there seems to be an opposite “oh no”.
The SNES is ripe for a good tennis sim. The fact that Super Tennis is still the best so far is disappointing to say the least. Presentation-wise, DCAT (as I’m coining it) is pretty good although the three tone menu screens could do with a bit of jazzing up. The ethnic diversity of the fictional players in the game also has to be commended.
Now to the nitty gritty. When you first load up the game, the graphics completely blow you away. You won’t have seen a sprite this large in any 16-bit game so far. Although some extra frames of animation would have put the icing on the cake, the game uses the full colour palette of the SNES extremely effectively. The courts are also well detailed and coloured, you feel as though you’re at Wimbledon, Roland Garros etc… You do however feel a bit sorry for the sprite on the other side. And the less said about the Foot Locker adverts the better (doh! – Ed).
There is no in-game music but the sound effects are extremely realistic and I also like the speech from the umpire. Far better than gigantic visual representations of the score from previous unmentionable tennis sims…
Everything is great so far, until the action starts. The new perspective, whilst innovative, causes a variety of problems. The collision detection is far from flawless, even when you’re controlling the larger sprite. I found serving extremely difficult (as it is in real life) and the lack of an auto-serve option meant that I was coughing up lots of double faults. The player doesn’t seem to adjust to shots that are a bit too close to the body. Where other sims would still allow you to hit the ball but not with as much pace, DCAT doesn’t let you hit it at all. When you connect with a shot it’s extremely satisfying. Until it hurtles off the court at immense speed. Adjusting the direction of shots also seems somewhat haphazard, caused by the new depth perception. When you control the smaller sprite at the top of the screen, all these problems are exacerbated.
A few of the problems with DCAT could have been mitigated. In 1-player tournament or exhibition mode, you will still have your turn at changing court and controlling the smaller sprite. Why not, in 1-player mode, solely control the larger sprite with the better depth perception? There were numerous times that my serve looked to have hit the line but it was still deemed to be a fault. In time (and I mean a LOT of time), you can learn to cope with these flaws but I don’t believe that’s what a tennis sim should be about. It should be easy to pick up and play instantly. If you persevere with it, there are a lot of game modes to enjoy and the graphics won’t cease to amaze you. Unfortunately, that’s the only thing amazing about this title.