Court By The Fuzz? Tennis Elbow 2009 Demo

By Kieron Gillen on November 11th, 2008 at 3:00 pm.

Blue Flowers by Dr Octogon was an awesome record. Listen to it - its here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9VYzNUXGDA

Ah, the Racquet-to-Ball game. The new and teeny-tiny 20Mb Demo of Tennis Elbow 2009 – sequel to many other Tennis Elbows of previous years – has just gone live, allowing you to play for fourteen days on a single court type minus career mode but with multiplayer. Which strikes me as a lot to cram into 20Mb. We didn’t even fit our last podcast into 20 Mb, and that’s just us and Erik having a good old yack. Anyway, it’s a Tennis game which can be got from here. What’s it like?

Well, in one word, fiddly.

Not totally inaccessible or anything, but it’s towards the more realistic option-heavy end of the Tennis game spectrum. There’s separate arcade and simulation modes, and there’s some manner of danger zone which appears where you should run to – with different coloured zones showing where you should and shouldn’t go. With a mass of shots available via two fire buttons (plus different shots with up and down in combination. Plus a different set when you press both at once. Plus aiming on left and right) there’s a lot to take in. You only really start getting anywhere when you stop trying – stick with the standard normal shot, play on the keyboard and get a hang of aiming.

Which isn’t exactly that easy in and of itself – you have to hold the button down until it strikes, or you end up doing a realatively weak shot. Equally, if you’re changing where you’re aiming, if you remove the button it resets and goes to the central position – however, it’ll also do that if you remove your finger from the directional buttons. And if you don’t, it’ll carry on going towards its destination. Point being, either you go for full-on-psychout and spray it back and forth in the vague area, or you just time the move for the latest moment.

Of course, to some, none of this is going to be a problem – there’s a lot to master, a lot of places to make mistakes and that’s exactly what they’re looking for in a tennis game. I’m not. I like my Tennis Games like I like my John Walker: A bit stupid.

(Okay, I lie: Virtua Tennis remains my model, which is easy to understand at a basic level, and so is the total opposite of the enigma that is John)

This is what it looks like in action…

And if it takes your fancy after playing the demo, you can order the full version from their site .

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12 Comments »

  1. BC says:

    I must have played this 10 years ago. I never knew they were still being made.

  2. Ian says:

    I liked Virtua Tennis games because I could get away with not being especially competent.

    This looks very… “busy” is the best word to describe my impressions of the trailer.

  3. Dolphan says:

    I might like this, since I love Top Spin 3 on the 360, which is pretty complex and tricky to master (and unfortunately a bit broken for multiplayer – there’s a limit on building up your player, and one kind of build is vastly superior to anything else, although this possibly doesn’t apply if you’re insanely good at the game). May check this out if I get time.

  4. Tim says:

    Really curious how this compares to Dream Match Tennis, the $5 game from Bimboosoft that seems pretty competent. Use analog sticks and swing timing to determine where the ball goes. The animations are stupid to compensate for the wide range of shot directions, but it plays pretty well and intuitively to me.

  5. terry says:

    But what of Athlete’s Foot 2009 Manager?

  6. Brokenbroll says:

    Tim, I’d say this compares favorably with Dream Match. I’ve only played a couple matches, but this seems to offer a pretty decent control over your shot selection. Its not as easy to learn, as the controls seem a little on the complex side.

    I don’t think you have the ability to hit the ball almost anywhere like you do in Dream Match though. I haven’t been able to go for any extremely short angled cross court top spin shots, and the net play is hard because of the timing system.

    Once I figured it out, I like the serving better than Dream Match. Smoother, and not so fiendishly strict on the swing timing.

  7. ManuTOO says:

    @Brokenbroll:
    u can do short angled shots with B1+down, and B1+B2+down (for a faster but more difficulty version).

  8. Brokenbroll says:

    Yep, I figured that out after more play to.

    This seems like a very nice tennis game, at least in the on court play. Clearly superior to something like Virtua Tennis or Top Spin in terms of actually allowing variety of play and feeling like actual tennis.

    It might even top Dream Match. It has a custom player feature, which is nice and something that stuck out as bad miss in Dream Match tennis. I do miss those not so subtly renamed classic players that Dream Match has, though. (Jimmy Cain and Boris Baron, anyone?)

  9. ILR says:

    It’s a bit funny that the measuring stick for tennis game competence on PC remains the semi-obscure and hideously named Dream Match Tennis (although judging from the amount of online matches, it seems to have picked up nicely in the last year or so), but so far it’s been the only worthwhile tennis game amidst glorified pong emulators. For me, the most remarkable thing in it was how faithfully the players’ signature shots were animated from their real life counterparts. I would have preferred the developers to focus on modern players instead of patching together a mishmash of characters from Nadal to wooden racquet gods, who tend to be a bit unbalanced to say the least. Replacing the old farts with the Rafter-Kafelnikov-Kuerten-Safin generation would’ve been grand.

    Lately, Top Spin 3 and the latest Smash Tennis have intrigued my curiosity. The first one seems like it’s trying to emulate the timing-based stroke system from Dream Match (although I remain skeptical due to the unimpressive efforts so far in the series) and I got the impression that even Smash Tennis was doing enough things right from its 3/10 Eurogamer review.

    Tennis Elbow I remember as one of the more Pong-y variants from the end of last millennium. It lacked a slice, a drop shot, and any means to create angles from just about any shot. From the general favorable impressions on this thread by people obviously in the know, looks like the mighty ‘Elbow might have some things going for it this time. Have to try the demo this evening.

  10. ManuTOO says:

    @ILR:
    Tennis Elbow always had since the very beginning the slice, the topspin, the drop short & the short strike… So it looks u never read the documentation… ;)
    The only new strike in TE2009 is the short acceleration.

  11. ILR says:

    @ManuTOO:
    Well, the drop shot was that short-ish stroke done with… umm… pressing both buttons and towards the net(?) that always landed on the service line and therefore was worthless as an actual shot. So yeah, it was included but no, it had no function.

    Topspin is of course in every basic groundstroke, but slice I sincerely can’t remember ever seeing in the game. You only had the option to choose the depth of the shot, right?

  12. ManuTOO says:

    @ILR:
    The drop shot in previous TE was falling at about mid-distance between the net & the service line, like a real drop shot, but the CPU was very quick to catch it, so it was mainly effective when u were at the net. In online matches against human, it was more balanced. And yup, it was B1+B2+up .

    The slice was B2+up, and if u prepared it very early, the effect was even too strong… :-p

    I’m not sure what u mean by “choosing the depth of the shot”. In TE, u can’t choose the depth of the shots, but u have different shots with different depths, so u can choose the one that suits ur current goal.

    By the way, DMT has only a little bit more online matches played every week than TE.

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