Advantage Tennis logo

Tennis sims have come a long way since Pong. OK, so Advantage Tennis doesn't feature waiting around for the rain to stop or whinging letters from Star Trek fans to Points of View moaning that Wimbledon has postponed The Next Generation (Get on with it - Ed) but in many other ways it's spot on - men jiggling around just before the serve like they want to go to the toilet, tantrums over bad shots, terrible refereeing decisions, and vile blue indoor courts where the ball whizzes past your ear before you have a chance to move.

Advantage Tennis attempts to capture all the excitement of World Tournament tennis. You start a tournament seeded 100 and try to make your way up the ranks by winning games. There are tournaments held all over the world - Australia, North America, England (yep, Wimbledon's in there), both indoors and outdoors. After each tournament, depending on how well you've done, you come away with a little extra dosh which you can spend on extra tuition to brush up on the shots of your choice.

So, let's go and thrash a few hairy-legged slavs... ah, this is where the problems start. Advantage Tennis is not easy. The actual controls are fairly straightforward - on paper at least. Joystick or cursors move you about the court, while the space bar or fire button increases power and the angle of the shot.

Combinations of the two produce lob and drop shots. Simple, huh? Well, no actually. The games soon become incredibly fast, and often you find yourself still rooted to the spot wondering how you could ever have been expected to reach a shot. The answer, of course, is to have played a better previous shot in the first place and then positioned yourself correctly for an easy return -a bit like in real tennis! - but that's always been an aspect of the game that's been lost on me.

OK, fine, I though, I'm prepared to persevere - what I hadn't reckoned with were the incredibly muddly controls. Sometimes your player just refuses to budge in the middle of a rally - a couple of times I even caught him running off in the wrong direction for no reason! Also, trying to judge the angle to hit the ball is next to impossible - 'hold down the button to increase the angle' say the instructions; you might as well tilt the screen for all the good it does most of the time.

Which is a shame because at times the game is quite addictive, and can be good fun. The animation is fluent, with some great dives and reaching shots; there are some nice touches such as a player stamping on his racket after a particularly bad shot too.

Saving your player allows you to work your way p the rankings over a number of weeks, and then there's always two-player mode, normally the saving grace of these games. This one's fine, or would be, but if both of you are hopeless the game quickly becomes dull; this is one of those occasions when a computer opponent is actually preferable.

Advantage Tennis logo CU Amiga Screen Star

As with French fashion, Gallic software has always been just that little bit more smartly presented than our home-grown stuff. However, whilst their releases often border on the weird and lose out on playability, our French chums nevertheless know how to breathe new life into a tired format. North And South was a perfect example of this, and now Infogrames have come up with the goods in this revamp of tennis.

Ordinarily, there isn't a lot you can do with the sport itself, but as Sensible Software showed in their 3D incarnation for Palace, simply mirroring the number of shots I the real sport can make for a very good simulation. Thus, by adding some neat animation touches to the odd-looking players, Infogrames have created two gangly competitors who make up in terms of flexibility what they lose in general aesthetics.

The court is viewed in the customary third-person perspective from behind the nearest player and as the ball is played from side-to-side, the screen scrolls to follow its movement.

Despite sounding a rather cumbersome system, this adds an almost film-like quality to the proceedings and, as the screen frantically follows the ball during long-lasting rallies, the scrolling remains perfectly smooth.

These rallies are where Advantage Tennis succeeds over its rivals. In the past, companies have shied away from the fast-paced aspect of the game and, although Palace's, UBI Soft's and Loriciels' games have been adequately playable, it isn't until you've experienced net play in the Infogrames game that you realise the true potential of binary tennis.

Another major benefit the game boasts is an instinctive control system, with the player plotting their shots almost perfectly using incredibly simple joystick controls. These allow the player to respond to their opponent's high lobs or sneaky net shots quickly and with pin-point accuracy.

In addition, the typically comprehensive Infogrames' option panel also allow you to add particular shots to your capabilities (smashes, through the legs, etc.) as well as tinkering with the many parameters within the game.

Apart from the obvious limitations of the sport itself, Advantage Tennis is a near-faultless rendition of the popular sport. By looking at previous tennis games. Infogrames have taken and added to the graphical style of Palace's game creating dubious-looking but thoroughly controllable playes who bob, twist mid-jump, and even stomp on their racquets after a duff shot.

Additionally, though, they have completely ignored the playing systems favoured by others in the sub-genre, and their method is far more user-friendly - not to mention accurate and responsive - than any I have encountered before.

I have always been a fan of the Tennis genre, and up until now always considered UBI's Pro Tennis Tour and the Palace game as the best on offer. With their innovative Advantage Tennis, though, Infogrames have lobbed those out of the court and are seeded number one as far as I am concerned.


From its refined beginnings as a sport for the Gentry, Tennis has evolved into a fast-paced business, far removed from its delicate origins. Gone are the long flowing dresses favoured by the ladies, replaced by short skits for minimum hindrance, and similarly the pleated trousers have given way to shorts and cycling shorts. Tennis is now given over almost entirely to speed and agility, with new racquets created for optimum shot strength and players given specific training for weaknesses and limitations. In addition, top-seeded players now won't cross the road for the meagre £100 Fred Perry slogged for, with prize money now regularly exceeding half-a-million pounds.

MOODY STARS Tantrums and tennis seem to go hand in hand, especially in the high-earning league. The likes of Boris Becker, Jimmy Connors, and, of course, John McEnroe are all famed for matching the word 'fault' with an F-word of their own! Wimbledon just wouldn't be the same without it...

Advantage Tennis logo

Amaya Lopez has always fancied herself as a sort of Mediterranean version of Steffi Graff. So we served her a copy of Infogrames' Advantage Tennis, to se if she'd get court out...

Ah, tennis. A game of balls, strawberries, barley water and old men in high chairs. A game which requires perfect co-ordination from the players and perfected head-swaying form the public. There's really nothing quite like it. (Thank God. Ed.) All those other snorey ball sports like snooker, golf and - horror of horrors - bowls aren't a patch on it.

Only tennis contains the unique combination of elegant movements, rousing mating calls and bombastic commentary. And that's probably the reason there have been rather a few tennis games already, including the first rate Tennis Cup and Pro Tennis Tour 2 (both from France). Now Infogrames has decided to add to the list with its new offering, Advantage Tennis.

Here you can choose grass, cement or clay courts, create your own tennis player with specialised strengths and practice furiously before entering a tournament. There are four different types of player: your unbeatable creation who specialises in "between the legs" (ahem), predefined players, the computer (whose attributes can be changed) and, in a two-player game, your opponent's unbelievably crap contestant.

And then it's off to Wimbledon, Roland Garros, the Davies Cup - you name it, the world's your oyster. Or is it?

Amiga reviewAmaya: As this is a French game, I was rather expecting it to contain some new contribution to the weirdness stakes, like topless ball girls or unnaturrally busty umpires. Luckily, this was not the case, although it's rather irritating that there aren't any women tenis players, especially if you want to call yourself Steffi (you have to opt for Martina instead).

Nevertheless, you do create your own player, blessing him with certain attributes - like a strong volley and serve, whilst dperiving him of others - on a sliding percentage scale. The trouble here is that in the two player option, your opponent can choose his seeding, but yours is fixed. The manual recommends you "reach an understanding" - a tad tricky, if your challenger resembles Hulk Hogan.

But onto the game itself. The graphics are very neatly animated, with bendy-topy players who duck, dive, lob, smash and, stomp on their rackets in frustration. However, the problems arise with the gameplay - somehow the sprites seem to have a mind of their own. No matter how furiously I moved the joystick, Martina just didn't respond quickly enough, and as I was consistently pitched against highly seeded players, I didn't stand a hope in hell.

In addition, the players carry on chasing and hitting the ball long after you've stopped pressing fire - you can happily get your hair cut, go down the pub. Consume a large doner and still return to find them merrily ping-ponging to and fro. Of course, the chance of your scoring any any points is greatly diminished, but to be honest I didn't fare that much worse then when I was actually playing.

The usual options are there: the training, season and exhibition modes,with the opportunity to save your fave creations and watch an action replay of your last rally. In addition, there is a handy automatic zoom view for close to the net shots. Sadly, there is no "havoc" mode where your player runs riot, insulting umpires and the public alike.

My main gripe, however, is the semiassisted movement - you never quite manage to control your player properly, and this does nothing to enhance the realism. As for the sound effects, the noises of the racket and ball, the crowd and the moans of straining players are all here, but somehow I still didn't get that 'being there' feeling. In fact, I felt I wasn't really there at all, er... particularly when I went down the pub.

All in all, this is a fairly average tennis game - I'm sad to say I couldn't quite find the 'advantage'. Stop