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...