Monday, 13 February 2017

Snes Review 113: Smash Tennis/Super Family Tennis

So if I was to tell you that I was going to be talking about a SNES game called Super Family Tennis, then you might say ''surly you just mean Super Tennis don't you?'' but no I don't. Super Tennis was the go to Tennis game that like pretty much everyone with a SNES seemed to own back in the day and I have already reviewed it a long time ago, to be honest at the time Super Tennis played really well and it seemed like it would be the only Tennis game anyone would ever need. Everyone I knew didn't care when ever a Tennis game was announced or screen shots were shown what could a SNES tennis game really offer that Super Tennis did not? Well the obvious answer was a 4 player mode and this was exactly the thing Super Family Tennis had going for it.

Super Family Tennis was created by Namco via their in-house brand Namcot and was released on the in Japan on June 25th, 1993 with the European version being called Smash Tennis, it was localized and released by Virgin Interactive the following year. This game for some reason never got an American release which to be fair I think is a crying shame. I have probably mentioned before that you didn't tend to get cheap new SNES games very often, back in the day games tended to sit at the £40 level for a long time, so when there was a case of a newish game being available for cheap it was sort of a big event. In the closest big town to me we had a huge Virgin Mega Store with a floor dedicated to music and then one to things like T-shirts and such and finally one split between games and films and they sold Smash Tennis near release for £20 and it sold like hot cakes, literally ever kid at school with a SNES did everything they could in order to get the cash to go grab it at the weekend, lots of us pocketed our dinner money and didn't eat for the week, went around collecting up glass bottles that had been dumped for the 10pence pieces we could get in exchange for them at the local store, begged for pocket money advances or offered to wash cars, pots and any other household chores going. In the end I remember going down to town with 3 friends on Saturday and all 4 of us brought a copy of the same game, the only time we would all usually get the same game was when something like Donkey Kong or Street Fighter 2 turbo or another highly publicized game was released and this was usually staggered with one of us getting it for a birthday, another for Christmas, someone saving up over time and someone else trading any game that wasn't bolted down for store credit to buy it (I was very against trading games , OK so maybe Id trade if I could swap one game for another and pay £5 but I wasn't going to swap like 8 old games in to get 1 game out the other end, it just didn't make sense to me).

It was a little strange this, we all just paid for the game without ever having played it, surly it would have made more sense for one of us to grab it and the rest of us to wait and see what we thought of it? We hadn't even seen reviews of it but we had seen very positive previews. The thing is nowadays even if a game receives positive reviews we don't always seem to believe them, we know that plenty of games have done well as far as websites and magazines go but then you read about publishers holding influence over parts of the media things like advert revenue being pulled when reviews have not met a publishers expectation, it seems almost stupid looking back to think of how high a regard we used to hold previews in, after all they were basically just a writers initial thoughts a guesstimate of how good or bad a game would be based on what sometimes was a very early unfinished build of a future game that they had been shown. Still we all jumped in and purchased Smash Tennis based of a strong preview and its cheap price tag.

OK so to get straight in to it Smash Tennis doesn't come with a whole lot of playing modes basically there are two choices and they are Exhibition and Tournament. Both can be played in Singles or Doubles mode. You can if you want to also watch the computer play itself, not sure why you would want to but the option is there if you'd like to try it.

In exhibition basically this is just what you play if you want to jump in things ayou pick your player and your rival, your court and then you get down to playing Tennis, this is good if you just want to have a quick bash but the Tournament is the real meat of the game. Now while I have said there are not a lot of game modes this is not to say that Namco did not bring much to the table, in fact there are a large number of courts, you can play on grass, clay, hard (concrete), sand, rock and there not simply cosmetic either if you play it you will find that the court actually does affect the way the ball travels. There is what is called a “Whistle Stop Tour”, in which you play matches while switching between the various types of courses. This is pretty darn cool as it keeps things remarkably fresh and varied for a Tennis game, add on to this the fact that there is a number of objects and people around the various courts, some of which you can interact with, for example, if you can manage to hit the climber in the Mountain Court you get to see him fall, its not like this does anything though its just a neat little touch for this type of game.

The game has a lot of player characters there are about 20 in total with 12men and 8 women, none of them are based on real Tennis players in fact they have regular names like John and Helen for example, but the interesting thing is that they all play completely different. Some have great serves others have very powerful shots in short all of them have something in particular which makes them worth picking. This adds extra fun in Doubles, where you not only try to pick the ideal player for yourself but also try to pick the perfect doubles partner to make the ideal team.

In Tournament mode your goal is to win the four Grand Slams of a single year. To do this you will have to play a number of tournaments until you win all of them. Tournament matches are short, you only play one set, and that's good because in my opinion this keeps things flowing rather fast. This game does not have battery back up it saves via passwords, they are given to you when you win a tournament and are of what I would consider a decent workable length, sure I would have preferd battery back up but its not like it ruins the game or anything so I wont be unjustly harsh on it.

The main thing is that the game plays well, darn well in fact, it is in its element when played in four player with your friends in particular but its a decent enough game when your on your own. The different characters with different strengths adds to the re-playability, all in all its a pretty darn fun game to play.

I don't tend to harp on to much about the graphics and sound concentrating more on the gameplay in games only really mentioning things which I deem to be neat little touches however lets just briefly touch on them. The Graphics are kind of simple but there is a great cartoony style to them, the courts are big and the characters are relativly small but with big heads and a surprising amount of character and importantly they look completely different to each other as opposed to being a bunch of poor clones. Now the SNES was often held on high when it came to its Sound, now there are some very good sound effect like echoes and the sound of the wind which I rather like, there is also some goo music but unfortunately not during the matches, maybe some people would find it distracting so that's why they didn't put it in but personally I think it makes things just a little bit duller than they could have been. I think overall it all fits together well giving it the feeling of a quality product.

I gave Super Tennis a 7 out of 10, it needs to be pointed out as I am sure I said at the time though I am not a big Tennis fan, I stand in judgement over Smash Tennis not from the point of view of a fan of Tennis but from the point of view of a fan of games, I suppose the most obvious question to ask is, ''is this game a Super Tennis beater?'' The truth is that it is a hard question to answer, this has a lot of neat little touches and it has a 4 player mode something Super Tennis does not, yet I can only stand it side by side with Super Tennis and if you told me I had to live with one and one alone it would be a very hard choice between the two of them, I find myself forced to give this game a 7 out of 10 and call it the equal of Super Tennis as opposed to a Super Tennis beater. If your looking to buy it then its not quiet as easy to get your hands on as Super Tennis, a cart only copy of it will cost you around £10, if you have a machine and want to play a Tennis game then I would go for Super Tennis as its cheaper and just as good but if you already have that and want more then give this a bash.

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