Super Tennis Champs logo

Reviewed by Tina Hackett

Good old tennis. It conjures nice, cheery images of Wimbledon, strawberries and cream and, best of all, summer. So you can imagine that getting a tennis game in the middle of dreary winter on a drizzly Monday morning was a real tonic.

Immediately my spirits soared and I let my mind wander to hot, summer days playing tennis in the fresh air - and then I remembered, I'm crap at tennis. Ahh, well, it was a nice image for a while. But this wasn't going to be a problem in Audiogenic's latest simulation as I later found out, and after a brief flip through the manual, the game can be immediately dived into.

What is instantly apparent is the style the programmers have plumped for, and instead of a stats-laden, realistic simulation, the cartoon characters suggest that this game is going to be fun. Before getting straight into a match you have a range of options to select to set the game up to your liking, so everyone is catered for - from the poor novice (like moi!) to budding Agassi's.

Once you've got to grips with the basic skills there are a number of different tournaments you can take part in, from an Exhibition mode to Grandslam, Tournament or League..

Exhibition allows you play singles or doubles with any players, on any surface, in a match of 1, 3 or 5 sets. Leagues can also be played as either singles or doubles and if you have a four-player parallel port adapter, up to four people can take part. As a budding tennis star, you also get to see the world through singles tournaments in Paris, New York, Melbourne or London.

It's a great game and one which won't fail to impress

Although it doesn't have tedious, mind-boggling stats, there is still a tactical element to it. Players have different skills and styles of playing which add variety and keep it realistic. Carlos, for example, is a young Spaniard (ohh, stereo-types, heh?). Apparently he has a flashing backhand (American, if you hadn't already guessed), has an enormous serve and stunning forehand. However, as he is cumbersome he keeps his rallies short. Control is either via a one or two button joystick or a CD32 controller.

All options work well but I felt the CD32 controller was easier for a beginner like me because the controls are located on separate buttons. For example, one button is for a normal shot, another for topspin, one for lob, and another for slice, whilst the directional pad controls the direction and length of shot.

Although having sound effects in this sort of game is nothing new - expected, in fact - they are notable because they are actually rather good and definitely enhance the atmosphere. The crowd cheers for the players when they score but you also get a sampled voice of the umpire which cries "Net" or "Out" as required, which works well in adding a touch of authenticity.

Graphically, the game has also been cleverly thought out. The view of the court works well so that you can see all that is going on and employs a raised view as if you are looking from above the court.

The sprites are a good size, mainly because they are easy to control but also because some animations have been included which add to the fun. The player can be seen jumping up and down excitedly if he wins, but if he loses he has a McEnroe-type tantrum. Too small a character and you can't seen what's going on, too large and they would look cumbersome and slow.

Don't get court out

The many courts after a different style of gameplay (see? authentic, eh?) that will challenge your game each time.
Hard - for the more experienced, this court is a real challenge as it will be fast-paced and will make the ball bounce high.
Grass - expect low balls but still high speed when you play on a grass court.
Clay - high bounces but a slower paced game are to be found on a clay court.

Playing to win...

Your competitors all have different skills, so take a look and you'll know what you're up against.

Super Tennis ChampsBuzz - Germany
He wears down his opponents with his powerful play.

Super Tennis ChampsRoger - English
A tough player but lacks invention.

Super Tennis ChampsIhara - Japan
A new player, he has a weak service. But with his speed he can turn a lost cause into a winning shot.

Super Tennis ChampsGreg - Australia
The former number one, he has excellent agility and a big serve.

Final word

Super Tennis Champs is a superb game which takes two minutes to get into but ages to master. It's instantly playable and the intuitive controls make it a dream to play. Saying that, you can either play with a joystick or CD32 joypad and as a personal reference, I found the joypad a great deal easier. The cartoon-style graphics work very nicely too and look appealing.

Although the game can be played tactically by weighting up the skills of the opposition, you can just jump straight into the game as a novice and still get a rewarding match - until you can build up your skills to enter one of the many tournaments. The game supports a four-player adapter which suits Super Tennis Champs brilliantly (who says computer games are anti-social?, and it works especially well when you pit your skills against a friend with a similar level of ability.

All in all, if you like tennis sims you'll love this. But you'll also love this even if you don't! It's a great game and one which won't fail to impress!

Super Tennis Champs logo Amiga Format Gold

Join Steve McGill in the umpire's chair as he judges Audiogenic to have served an ace that would give Dan Maskill a stroke if he were still alive.

Super Tennis Champs is one of those games that makes you proud to be a member of Amiga Format. In the month before Steve Bradley spontaneously combusted, he was sent a nifty tennis game programmed by Elton Bird of Mental Software.

Sussing its potential immediately, he passed it on to Audiogenic and t our sister magazine Amiga Power. Power immediately put the game on to one of their Coverdisks (we didn't have the room) and Peter Calver of Audiogenic put Elton to work on improving the basic game.

Super Tennis Champs is the result of all that hard work and I'll aply for a Glasgow Rangers season ticket if it isn't the best tennis game ever to have appeared on the Amiga.

Now, realising the terrible consequences of being wrong, I'll have to justify some of the bold assertion.
One of the first things that a tennis game must possess is a believable sense of physics and an intuitive control system to match. Super Tennis Champs has both in abundance. Not only can you control the type of serve and shot that's played, the spin and velocity of the stroke is also under the player's control.

To further complement this variety, the game also exploits the use of two-button joystick and CD32 controllers to make certain shots, such as lobs and drop shots easier to pull off. This adds real skill to the matchplay and when two opponents of similar ability come up against one another, the result can be an absorbingly fraught and tense affair.

STC is one of the best tennis games on any platform... Terrific fun - go and get it.

Moreover, Super Tennis Champs introduces the concept of character play. That is, some characters - of which there are sixteen - have stronger matchplay characteristics in certain areas of their game. For example. Paulo is very fast on his feet around the court. Shrewd players, once they're familiar and well practiced with the game, can exploit this so that someone whom they're markedly superior to could be given one of the best characters to play, in an improvised form of handicapping.

Just in case this isn't considered relevant, the option exists to switch the character traits off, so that all characters are equal.

Furthermore, the game also makes use of parallel port joystick adapters enabling up to four players to take part at the same time. Great fun, considering that doubles can be played with only one person.

So, in all, Super Tennis Champs presents potential players with amazing gameplay, a whole host of options to customise the game to the participants' delight and, most importantly, entertains in a manner that encourages spontaneous laughter and temper tantrums at the same time.

So go for Super Tennis Champs; it's one of the best tennis games on any platform... Terrific fun - fully deserving of a Format Gold.


Super Tennis Champs
Different courts have a different effect on the ball...

Super Tennis Champs
...grass is probably the most challenging, whereas...

Super Tennis Champs
...clay is best for the beginner, due to the speed.

Super Tennis Champs logo

Unser Davis-Cup-Team hat Sorgen, Boris hat Wadenkrämpfe, Steffi hat Steuerprobleme, und wir haben eine brandneue Tennissimulation von Audiogenic bzw. Mental Software für Euch im Test: Aufschlag Joker!

Während Boris Becker den Anschluß zur Weltspitze in letzter Zeit nur mit Müh und Not halten konnte, führt am Amiga mit Blue Bytes Klassiker "Great Courts 2" ja nach wie vor ein deutsches Produkt unangefochten die Weltrangliste an. Dem setzen die Engländer hier einen eher launigen Schweißtreiber entgegen, de weniger auf simulative Features denn auf schiere Action setzt.

Freilich haben die Super Tennis Champs auch optionsmäßig einiges zu bieten, etwa Einzel- oder Doppelbegegnungen in den Freundschaftsspielen und der Liga.

Falls ein Vier-Spieler-Adapter im Parallelport steckt, läßt sich dabei sogar das komplette Quartett von menschlichen Racketschwingern steuern.

Die Teilnehmerzahl in der Liga ist auf vier oder acht Singles bzw. Paare begrenzt, die dann jeweils ein- bis viermal über eine Matchdauer von drei Spielen, einem, drei oder fünf Sätzen gegeneinander antreten.

Ja, für die einzelnen Grand-Slam-Turniere in Paris, New York, London und Melbourne, die auch komplett im Vierer-paket inklusive Rangliste durchgezockt werden können, dürfen sich gar bis zu 16 Teilnehmer anmelden. Hier entscheidet dann allerdings stets nur ein Satz über Sieg oder Niederlage.

Gespielt wird wahlweise auf Kunststoff, Gras oder Sand, wobei der gewählte Boden auch tatsächlich Auswirkungen auf das Absprungverhalten und die Geschwindigkeit des Balls hat.

Ganz unterschiedlich auch sind die Charakterprofile der 16 Sportsmänner, aus denen man hier zu Beginn sein Alter ego wählt: Das Angebot reicht vom brillante All-rounder Mac bis hinunter zum eher schwachen Doogie.

Wer sich der ultimate Herausforderung des Grand Slams stellt, darf dabei aber nicht in die Tennisschuhe der sechs Besten schlüpfen. Für runde 20 Märker pro Stück sind beim Hersteller zudem bereits zwei Zusatzdisketten mit je 16 Mädels sowie gemischten Doppel-teams erhältlich, weitere sollen folgen.

Politisch geht hier soweit also alles korrekt zu, während die Grafik doch allerlei Wünsche offenläßt. Dabei erblickt man den Platz ganz klassisch von leicht oberhalb der Grundlinie; je nach Geschmack wird schnell, langsam oder überhaupt nicht in alle Richtungen gescollt.

Auch die Animationen der hübsch detaillierten Sprites sind kaum der letzte Schrei, obgleich das Benehmen der CPU-Cracks bisweilen schon zum Schreien ist: Es kann passieren, daß sie nach einem Ballwechsel urplötzlich im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes mit dem Kopf durch die (Begrenzungs-) Wand wollen!

Akustisch gibt's andererseits kam Grund zur Klage, denn die Schlaggeräusche, kleinen Sprachfetzen vom Schiri und die Publikumsovationen klingen recht ordentlich. Das gilt übrigens auch für die fetzigen Beats beim Gang durch Menüs und Kurzstatistik.

Was die Steuerung betrifft, so hinterläßt sie wiederum gemischte Gefühle. Das korrekte Ausführen der Schläge (u.a. Slice, Lob oder Top Spin) bedarf nämlich einer gehörigen Portion Trainingsfleiß, insbesondere mit einem handelsüblichen Ein-Button-Stick.

Umständliches wie Doppeldruck und Halten des Feuerknopfes vor Ballkontakt fällt mit einem Zwei-Button-Modell schon teilweise weg, doch echte Siegchancen erhalten eigentlich nur die Besitzer eines CD32-Pads - nur hier verteilen sich die vier möglichen Schläge auf jeweils eigene Knöpfchen, nur hier kann man somit auch der Laufarbeit die erforderliche Konzentration widmen.

Okay, bei den Aufschlägen landet die Filzkugel zumindest im Easy-Modus automatisch dort, wo man zuvor in aller Ruhe das Fadenkreuz plaziert hat, doch ansonsten macht wirklich erst die Übung den Meister.

Denn man braucht schon blitzschnelle Reaktionen und die richtige Taktik, um jedem der durch die Bank toll auftrumpfenden CPU-Gegnern zu zeigen, wo das Racket hängt.

Als Lohn der Fron dürfen besonders gelungene Ballwechsel im Replay nochmals genossen werden, während eine Speicheroption jederzet den Gang zur Dursche ermöglicht.

Fazit: Die Spitzenposition von "Great Courts 2" bleibt ungefährdet, aber wer eine echte Herausforderung im weißen Digi-Sport sucht, der findet sie bei den Super Tennis Champs auch - der Name spricht quasi für sich. (st)


Zwar hat Great Courts 2 schon über fünf Jahre auf dem Buckel, doch stellt die Equipe von Blue Byte amit noch wie vor die Nummer Eins im Genre: Die überzeugende Präsentation und der geniale Karrieremodus mit Rilli-Elementen wie dem Verbessern der Werte per programmierbarer Ballmaschine machen das Spiel zu einer Klasse für sich.

Mit einigem Abstand auf Rang zwei rangiert Loriciels Tennis Cup 2, das zwar reichlich Optionen, einen Splitscreen sowie einen Editor für die Spielerstärke zu bieten hat, steuerungstechnisch, optisch und akustisch jedoch nur knapp über das Mittlmaß hinauskommt.

Inhaltlich weiß Center Court Tennis von Blitzware nicht nur dank der Entwicklungsmöglichkeiten der Spielerwerte beim Sammeln von Punkten und Preisgeldern zu überzeugen, leidet aber unter einer sehr mäßen Präsentation. Dieses Manko wollen die "Blitz Basic"-Experten von Acid Software jedoch demnächst höchstpersönlich ausbügeln.

Nur der Vollständigkeit halber sei noch das bei Palace erschienene International 3D-Tennis erwähnt, eine Jugendsünde der Hitlieferanten von Sensible Software. Jedes weitere Wort über die karge Interlace-Vektorgrafik und die träge Steuerung wäre heutzutage reine Zeitverschwendung.

Super Tennis Champs logo

It won't even drink your blackcurrent juice while you're busy signing autographs

Call it what you will - whether irony, fate or destiny - but when I was plucked from post-University obscurity by someone who should have known better, AMIGA POWER was fielding Tennis Champs on its lead coverdisk.

That was then (AP52. - Ed) and this is now (AP56. - Ed). In the space of four issues, Tennis Champs has visited the local deed poll office and added a Super in a remarkably poor attempt to conceal its identity. But why the name change at all? Following its exposure on our coverdisk, Audiogenic bought the game from Mental Software with the intent of buffing it up and releasing it themselves, which, by complicated legal means, resulted in their being in thrall to the SINISTER EVIL MEGA-GLOBAL CORPORATION THAT PULLS THE STRINGS OF AMIGA POWER until they paid back what we'd paid for the game. Good grief. But anyway

Audiogenic, I am pleased to report, have succeeded. Super Tennis Champs is palpably buffed and demonstrably superer, and will often take you on a frighteningly enjoyable ascent to heaven and occasionally dump you, crestfallen into THE PITS OF HELL.

As a general rule, the sign of a good game is when everyone in the AP office gathers around a single screen to make noises, and Super Tennis Champs has had such an effect. It managed effortlessly to attract attention from other magazines, had ("Lunks" - Ed") coming in off the streets, and Bet Gilroy and other world leaders stood around gawping in amazement as Kras thumped another forehand into the net (because he's crap) and cheering the mind-numbingly fast and furious rallies between the likes of Mac and Greg (who are good). They've all gone now, of course, back to their meths or campaigns of nuking New Zealand, but they were here. Why would I lie to you? They were.

Still desperately trying to shake off my New Prod Ed tag, I'm not going to do myself any favours by readily admitting that I'm not particularly brilliant at any Amiga games - suffering regular and humiliating defeats on footy games, crashing on the first bend of racing games and getting myself killed instantly in a Doom clone before I've had so much as the chance to utter "What am I meant to do?" But hey, I'm a Prod Ed, and before I arrived here the only game I'd ever mastered was Amsoft's 3D Grand Prix on the CPC 6128.

But with Super Tennis Champs I found myself rallying away like a star, and (occasionally) outplaying a singles computer opponent in a singles computer opponent in SHEER SHOT SKILL.

The strengths of Super Tennis Champs, you see, lie in its simple approach to a traditional and boring game which everyone seems to play around Wimbledon time before putting away their racquets and spending the next 11 months wondering why Britain never produces any decent homegrown talent - it makes fun. It's terrifically accessible and the Gladstone bag of options 'serve' (ho, ho) not only the tennis aficionados but EVERYONE. Including, for example, me.

Take the service. There are two service modes - easy and pro. You can see where you're aiming an 'easy' (a little target appears - extremely helpful, but fairly useless against another human) but can swerve a 'pro' (fiendishly difficult, but appallingly effective).

Advantages and disadvantages, and that. (Although one thing that irked me was that a computer player always served in 'pro' mode. C 'mon guys - fair's fair, and all the rest of that snivelling nonsense. If I'm new to the game, I want to see where the service is going. Tch.)

Once you've served successfully (using whichever mode you see fit) the ball is likely to return pacily to the baseline. There are four shots you can play - normal, topspin, slice and lob. There's no keyboard option (slightly annoying when it comes to four-player games, but more of that later) and to get all the shots using a one-button joystick requires a cunning fire button technique (shots are made depending on your pressing, double-pressing or holding down fire) and a lot of 'context-sensitivity' (the computer deciding what you want to do depending on where your opponent is - a bit of jiggery-pokery that largely works).

The major failing of this control method is that when you're at the back of the court you naturally slap down on fire in the belief it'll make the ball go further - instead, it's interpreted as a 'drifter' and your shot spills into the net.

Owners of CD32 pads have the luxury of a shot per button, but I don't much like it. It's too easy to become preoccupied with one shot. (Jonathan disagrees fiercely, pointing out that instead of worrying about hitting buttons a number of times, you can easily perform any shot at any time, so it's obviously personal preference).

My choice of control method is the two-button joystick. It's easier than the one-button method (you effectively get a spot more time to ponder a shot, and while you still have to double-press fire you don't have to hold it down) while being instinctive enough to plan ahead. (Although I still can't smash from the baseline, which players like Julius can do with fearsome regularity. Grrrr.)

Everyone seems to play around

The four-player game, then. Up to three of the players can be computer characters, and you can elect to play with or against a convenient human. (You can, of course, have four human players, but you'll be better off with at least one computer character until you've got the hang of the game, otherwise you'll find your rallies disappointingly shot and the match decided on aces - as tediously as in real life. Ensure each player is competent, however, and the four-player mode is astoundingly good fun.)

Thinking it would be a good opportunity to practise for that evening's badminton session, Sue and I opted to play as Greg and Jules - two of the best players - against Kras and Buzz, the East European Combo. We lost. Love-six. But we didn't care, it was fantastic fun, and to prove it the next three hours were spent trying to take at least ONE GAME from any computer paring, trying out against each character in turn and attempting to exploit his weaknesses. (We failed. But we didn't care. Etc.)

But hold on. His weaknesses? I found the omission of women from Super Tennis Champs a profound disappointment. This isn't because of any pervy predilection that I have for the opposite sex, though they are extremely nice, it's just that so much good work has gone into representing most races on this earth that it's sad to see Audiogenic throw it away by having no female tennis players.

Fortunately, our good pal Elton Bird tells of moves afoot to produce character disks for women players and mixed doubles, as well as an editor for the existing players. (Audiogenic are strangely reticent about releasing such disks - perhaps a show of appreciation from AP readers will sway their oddly obligue minds). In the meantime, you can always resort to choosing Stan - after all, most English tennis players play like big girls.

Lemon meringue pie like my mum's

And so to the tourneys. There's a ridiculously comprehensive grand slam - up to 16 players can take part - and doubles players can try out in the leagues. A decidedly Good Thing is that you can take the part of any computer player at any time - flicking nonchalantly through the early round results, for example, then deciding to throw away Roger's chances by TAKING HIM OVER for that important semi-final.

As AMIGA POWER has said time and again, it's the details in a game that count. Alert readers will recall that in our preview of Super Tennis Champs we came up with improvements that could be implemented. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Mental Software had already put them in by the time we suddenly remembered to ring and tell them.

"Player tantrums," we suggested.
"Already in," they said. "Press fire after losing a point and your player swings his racquet bad-temperedly. But only for A1200 owners. And if you win a point, you can raise your hand triumphantly (or in the manner of an evil villain falling into his own atomic reactor, comic fans) in the same way." (We paraphrase them, if it's not already obvious.)

"And replays," we added. "With slow-motion, rewind and freeze-frame," they countered triumphantly. "And Vinnie Vega too," we concluded. "Yup," they said, "He's in. Lanky black hair and everything." OR SO THEY THOUGHT

Truly they are stars. Although I for one dislike the replay in that there's no fast-forward and it shows the entire rally - particularly annoying if you have to sit through 30 or so shots to get to the final smash you want. Why not just have limited it to the last four shots? (But what if you want to see the whole rally? Tsk. - Ed.)

And, of course, it still has the splendid scrolling court (the court fits in its entirety on screen, but can scroll around slightly to follow the ball in a pleasing manner) and bleepy line calls which we had seen (and heard) before.

I strongly advise that you do everything in your power to play Super Tennis Champs (though I'm not advocating stealing old ladies' purses or advertising yourself for the sexual gratification of others, perish the thought). It's a hoot in one-player mode (if hellishly hard) and with four players is easily the most fun you can have fully-dressed, and, we hear, pretty damn good undressed as well, a joke I can make because I'm new.

If I had to personify this game I would do so thus. It's female, it looks (and sing) like Belinda Carlisle, it supports Notts County and it cooks lemon meringue pie just like my mum's. But don't let that put you off. Buy it.


But why buy Super Tennis Champs if you already have the original? Eh? EH? We now take you live and by the satellite to the final of a tennis match that will answer such a question. That one, in fact.

Super Tennis Champs Super Tennis Champs

Tennis Champs has a singles option for one or two players. 15-0.

So too does Super Tennis Champs. It also has doubles and a FOUR-PLAYER MODE OF CHAMPIONS. 15-all.

In Tennis Champs you can play as one of eight characters in a tournament on one of three different court types. 30-15.

Super Tennis Champs has 16 characters, three different court types that PLAY DIFFERENTLY, toruneys, leagues and a grand slam. 30-all.

The sound effects on Tennis Champs are better. Out! Second service.

Tch. Bad luck, old fellow..

The crowd applauds every winning shot someone tells you when you've played a nice return or hit an ace or when payday is due. Out! 30-40.

Super Tennis Champs has some grungey intro music. Deuce.

Tennis Champs was discovered by AP.
Advantage Tennis Champs!

Super Tennis Champs has 'net clipping'. Deuce.

Tennis Champs doesn't cost £26.
Advantage Tennis Champs!

The characters in Super Tennis Champs have their own strengths and weaknesses, they can play a greater variety of shots, throw tantrums and taunt opponents with celebratory gestures. Deuce.

So, er, Tennis Champs then.
Advantage Tennis Champs!

Up to 16 players can join in a league, there's a replay facility, it's fantastic fun to play and we've just given it 92%. Game, Set and match to Super Tennis Champs!.

Should any of you wish to re-enact the AP Challenge for yourself, you'll need a copy of the AP52 coverdisk where Tennis Champs first appeared. SWELL THE BLOATED COFFERS OF OUR EVIL CORPORATE PAYMASTERS by applying to page 59.


In order to take advantage of Super Tennis Champs' FOUR_PLAYER MODE OF CHAMPIONS, you'll need a joystick adaptor. They can be ordered from a company called RSD on (01992) 584205 for a surprisingly reasonable £7. But be warned, due to arcande technical problems with the Amiga itself you can only use one-button joysticks with them.


You'll need three friends to play Super Tennis Champs' FOUR-PLAYER MODE OF CHAMPIONS but do not worry if you are three friends short. Here is a selection of characters who are always up for a game. They'll remember to bring their kit and everything.

Super Tennis Champs
Ayrton is a young Brazilian who likes to live life in the fast lane. Choose him as a partner to avoid crashing out in the early rounds.

Super Tennis Champs
Carlos claims his dashing speed on the tennis court is the result of his four years as a matador. However, this Spaniard isn't to be trusted as he's renowned for talking bull. (Dear lord. - Ed.)

Super Tennis Champs
The result of a sinister East European biomechanics experiment, Kras is an expensive partner to maintain. At crucial moments his game goes to pieces, requiring another coin in the slot at the top of his head.

Super Tennis Champs
Julius' desire to win is second to none, and although he owns a vast repertoire of shots his unsteady hand has caused grave mistakes in the past. Be careful not to incur his wrath.

Super Tennis Champs
This Aussie has been a model pro home and away but is now looking to settle down in this country. Will you choose Greg to be your new neighbour? (Stop him. For pity's sake. - Ed.)

Super Tennis Champs
Er, Royale with cheese anyone?

Super Tennis Champs logo

Price: £27.99 Publisher: Ocean 061 832 6633

Tennis games have had a sort of hiatus on Amiga, so the time is right for something new. Enter Loonysoft, or Madware, or something.

We share an office with a bunch of lovable misfits called Nintendo Magazine System. Normally they stick to their toys and we stick to real computers but one day while yours truly was playing this game an NMS bod approached. "Oy, is that Smash Tennis?" he said. Nope. It's Super Tennis Champions, though at first glimpse you'd be forgiven for asking the question.

Some time ago a Super Nintendo game called Smash Tennis (produced by Namco and known in Japan as Super Family Tennis) was all the rage, interrupting work on both NMS and our own mag as matches were arranged and reputations were raised and thrashed. I'm not sure if this was what the developers, Mental Software, intended but the similarities are striking, and since Smash was a superb game this is not a bad thing.

Super Tennis Champions has all the usual options as far as tennis gaes go: you can choose players, choose type of surface (hard, grass, clay), choose between singles or doubles play, the amount of sets and between friendly or championship matches.

The latter allows you to enter singles or double leagues, a single tournament in either Australia, the UK, the USA or France or a Grand Slam which takes you on a circuitous tour of the world's tournaments.

One of the features we really liked about Sensi Golf was that you could invite lots of friends around for a tournament and, with up to 16 players allowed in the singles tournament, Super Tennis Champions has the same advantage. In fact up to four humans can play at the same time! You can also save out a league or tournament so that new ranking can be recorded and you can go back to beating the hell out of your friends at a later date.

Four player mode is only possible, needless to say, in doubles play and with a parallel port joystick adaptor. Ours has mysteriously disappeared (jumped off the edge of a cliff for lack of support most likely), so we weren't able to test this feature, but there's no reason why it should be anything less than a real hoot.

Super Tennis Champions allows you to choose from 16 characters on a first name basis. Each character has strength and weaknesses in the areas of speed, finishing and determination but they all look wild. A sense of humour was employed by the artist here because we have every possible weird combination of haircut and clothes. From Synex with his shades and cool baseball cap to Roger the Nigel Mansell lookalike and Julius,without doubt one of the Jackson Five's backing band or at least a one time member of Funkadelic.

Little animation touches like players skidding to ahalt at cartoon-style angles and very convincing serving stances add character to Super Tennis Champs. However, while the 'celebration' animation when a point is won) is very good, what's supposed to pass as 'throwing a tantrum' when one loses a point is very poor. This involves the player hunching up and shaking their tennis racket. It should have involved jumping up and down at least and probably a two finger salute to round things off nicely.

Indeed, having added these two animations in the first place it would have been nice for Mental Software to give us a bit more variety. But I'm really clutching at straws here, just to play devil's advocate, because the overall standard animation is fine.

The scrolling that exists in Super Tennis Champions is there to give the game a bit more animation and TV commentary-style movement. This can be turned off so that the court remains static, otherwise it runs in fast or slow modes. I favour slow.

Sound is impressive too, with a zippy little theme tune and excellent, if sparse, crowd, linesman and beeper samples.

Development versions of Super Tennis Champions had irksome disk swopping procedures and what seemed like a phenomenal amount of waiting time before anything would happen. Now it's been squeezed onto a single disk for release these problems have been solved.

Game, set...
To say we liked Super Tennis Champs here in the office would be understating things. We loved it. Competition got fierce for a few days but we ended up with an unexpected outside winner who managed to thrash the lot of us, our designer Anthony Collins.

Both one and two player modes are brilliant fun and the fact that you have the choice of one, two or six button control (this game is a very good reason to upgrade to a joypad) means that precise control can be gained over the various types of shot. Shots can be lobbed and include topspin and slices.

Serving is another area where Super Tennis Champs comes into its own, with the option of Pro or Easy serves. If you select Easy serves then a target will appear showing you where you are aiming. All you have to do is press the fire button twice: to throw and hit the ball. In Pro mode it's up to you to aim and curve the ball wherever you can. This can be difficult at first, but soon becomes second nature, daring shots becoming aces.

Super Tennis Champion does have its annoying let downs. Although player characteristics can be turned off, some of them are a bit duff. I don't mind missing shots because I read the game the wrong way, I don't mind hitting the net because I didn't put enough height into the shot. It's just that the players seem to be too slow. This wouldn't be a problem if you could dive for shots or hit them on the run like Smash Tennis.

Even with all the inaccuracy problems these options would cause I would prefer to have a wild go, rather than just fail to reach the right spot and hit the ball. Half of the excitement is in trying and since this game obviously has a cartoon element and a sense of humour these features would have added extra oomph.

Gripes aside it's the only new tennis game available at the moment, it's great fun and highly addictive. But we'll save the last words for our champ, Anthony: "After initial control problems with the pro serve, my biggest worry was finding someone who could give me a good game, other than Synex and the computer". The big headed git.

Just Some Of The Characters
Super Tennis Champs Super Tennis Champs Super Tennis Champs Super Tennis Champs Super Tennis Champs Super Tennis Champs

Super Tennis Champs logo

Audiogenic have finished their data disks for Super Tennis Champs. Owners of the world's best tennis game (which incorporates the FOUR-PLAYER MODE OF CHAMPIONS) can now play as women or in mixed doubles matches.

We tried out the women's disk, and were disappointed. We're indeed women (more so in Sue's case) but appeared no different from the chaps. We clenched our fists when we won (Sue suggested some sort of can-can) and waved our racquets when we lost (Sue suggested raising our skirts and mooning to the crowd) and though the players acted differently from each other, as a group they behaved in exactly the same way as the men.

Apparently the mixed doubles disk will finally let you play Vinnie and Jules together (but then it wouldn't be mixed doubles, hmmm?) and we expect the men will hit the ball further, or something.

The disks cost £8 apiece and are available from Audogenic at Thwap Thwop Spanggg Pinge Kretangg Customer Services, Dept 87, Unit 27, Christchurch Industrial Estate, Harrow HA3 8NT. We don't feel we can recommend them and can't help but wonder why they weren't part of the game in the first place.

Super Tennis Champs logo

Price: £7.99 Publisher: Audiogenic 0181 424 2244

I was very, very disappointed not to see this superb little tennis game topping the charts since its launch before Christmas. IT has appeared a few times in the top 20 but not enough in my opinion.

With a wealth of competition options, 16 players to choose from and a great fun two player mode it certainly deserves more attention. According to Audiogenic's Peter Calver "sales were somewhat disappointing, but this has more to do with the failure of the Amiga than anything else. When the A1200 didn't lift off shops were reluctant to stock games, especially at Christmas. Things are slightly better now, but people still call us asking when it's being released - and it's been in the shops for more than three months now."

The original game is probably the easiest to like and learn tennis game the Amiga has ever had. The options included world tournaments, doubles tournaments and a very competitive two player mode. In fact, because 16 tennis players were available and a save disk could be created you could set up a league with a room full of friends and keep competing week after week.
But all sixteen players were men, and some thought this was a bit discriminatory.

So, if one of the reasons you haven't bought Super Tennis Champs is rampant feminism, this data disk will affirm your rights and enable you to partake in politically correct games of tennis with other Wimmin of the world. Similarly if mixed doubles is your cup of tea then the second data disk will fulfill all your fantasies.

The lads in the original were a mixed bag of national stereotypes, the Englishman looked like Jack Charlton, th Brazilian like, well, Michael Jackson did in the 1970s (funnily enough, not like Maradonna) while the Americans looked like Americans in a flamboyant, sunglass wearing American sort of way. And so the theme continues with Penny the prim English woman, Helga the grim German and Heidi from Switzerland.

No cosmetic or general gameplay changes are made by these data disks, but the addition of new players does give more variety and the mixed doubles will certainly give those with nagging other halves (watch it - Lisa) the opportunity to play on an equal footing. I still highly recommend this tennis game.