Court in the act

Tennis Cup 1 logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

WIMBLEDON is almost upon us, so what could be more likely among this month's crop of software than a tennis game. Admittedly most software houses this year don't seem to be interested in sports sims unless the constituents include two teams of 11 men, a leather ball, several thousand trouble-dogged fans and a spot of politics. So I suppose it is a bit of a blessing.

Although the instructions for Tennis Cup are a little on the spartan side, there is quite a lot to do before you start strutting it on the court, so to speak.

There are six modes of gladiatorial racket combat to chose from: Exhibition matches, tournaments, doubles, Davis Cup... virtually every avenue of permutation is ruthlessly explored.

You must also design your player. This takes the form of adjusting up and down his statistics for forehand, backhand, smashes, lobs and service.
Points can be subtracted form one statistic and added to another until you like the look of them. The programmers must have picked up a few tips form the Minister for Employment here. Among other things you can decide is their nationality, which determines which terribly rendered national anthem is played before the match.

I was very upset to find there was no Irish option. There wasn't an English option either but that's understandable since England doesn't have any tennis players (And I suppose Ireland does? Ed).

The graphics are, as you would expect from a French game, excellent. Animation is well done, as is the scrolling in the split views. The automatic service machine is a nice touch.

The most impressive thing about the Tennis Cup though is the sound. Excellent ball effects, the temptation is to think that they may have been sampled at some exclusive world final or something.
Likewise the grunts that accompany some of the more adventurous plays could almost certainly come from Connors on one of his good days. Even the score is read out in traditionally officious speech-synthesis.

Depending on your position on the court and the style of shot your opponent plays, you have a limited vocabulary of returns. Spins, lobs, smashes, volleys and the like are all catered for. The game will automatically assume you wish to play backhand if the ball is behind you - very clever of it because half the time I accidentally ran too far.

It can be a little difficult to get into, but there is a training option and you can slow down the ball speed. Training forms an important part of the game in tournament mode. Training before the match can improve your statistics in the areas selected, as does experience throughout the match.

A whole series of vicious opponents will give lasting challenge, especially in the championship and Davis Cup scenarios. If you think you're so much better, you can always get a friend to play. That should make things a bit harder, particularly if you play a doubles match with both of you on the same side. Players won't actually collide, but the confusion is as profound as in the real thing.

One of the only decent tennis sims around, so there's not much competition, especially as everyone and his uncle is concentrating on Lineker simulators at the mo. Full of nice touches, like the line judges the head following the play and the ball boys running out. The only thing missing is the rain.

Tennis Cup 1 logo

LORICIELS £24.99 * Joystick

Tennis has come a long way from two oblong bats and a small white square blipping around a rectangle. Loriciel's latest simulation brings a new sense of realism to the game with simultaneous two-player viewpoints, and a high level of aesthetic authenticity.

As expected, the game supports a whole range of gameplay options, such as the type of court (clay, hard, grass and indoor), length of game (1, 3 or 5 sets) and speed of play (high, medium and low). You may also select to practive against a ball-hurling device before deciding to play a match proper.

Having opted to complete against a human or computer-controlled opponent, you can then choose the venue: whether it is to be a friendly one-on-one, or as part of a grander competition, such as the Davis Cup.

Your player's nationality can be appointed via a host of national flags (could it be a subtle French at the Brits that the Union Jack is oddly absent?) and your playing characteristics can be customised to suit. A range of playing abilities - such as service, volleying, etc - are allotted a percentage rating from a set credit allowance. Your player's characteristics can then be saved to disk, allowing a player's prowess to be gradually improved with time.


The players are beautifully animated, and the split-screen views are extremely realistic and detailed. The single fly in the visual ointment is that the screen jerks to one sirde or the other instead of scrolling smoothly, which can be slightly off-putting.
Sampled sound is used to great effect throughoutm, with amazingly clear speech for the score, game status and line calls. Digitised spot effects like the thwack of ball on racket and turf similarly help to boost the believable atmosphere.


Sports simulations have terrific longevity due to the nature of the beast. With loads of options, a good two-player game and a decent computer opponent, Tennis Cup should be a reasonably long term investment.


The split-screen viewpoint is a distinct improvement over previous attempts, since there is invariably some discomfort when one player is forced to play from the opposite 'end'. However, the narrow screen means that the ball often flies out of view - especially during the all-important service - resulting in several moments of complete confusion.

There is also a terrible buffer between pressing the fire button to initiate a stroke, and your player actually doing it. This proves to be a serious hurdle for the first few games until you get into the swing of things.

Tennis is tennis, take it or leave it. This offering from Loriciels is nicely executed, but not so amazingly ground-breaking that it could replace any other half-decent tennis game in your collection.

Tennis Cup 1 logo

Die halbe Nation ist mittlerweile der Faszination des kleinen Filzbällchens erlegen, kaum noch ein (Fernseh-)Tag ohne Tennis! Eigentlich erstaunlich, daß es auf den Computercourts bis jetzt vergleichsweise ruhig zugeht. Aber vielleicht ändert sich das ja durch Loriciels neueste Veröffentlichung...

Der Spielverlauf von Tennis Cup bietet naturgemäß keine Überraschungen - in einer Zeit, in der die Tennisregeln praktisch schon zur Allgemeinbildung gehören! Trotz des anhaltenden Booms gab es bislang nur wenige mehr oder minder geglückte Versuche, den weißen Elitesport halbwegs realistisch umzusetzen.

Loriciel versucht nun, mit seinem Gam neue Wege zu beschreiten: Auffälligstes Memal ist dabei die Einführung des Split-screen-Prinzips, also der zweigeteilte Bildschirm. Dadurch ist der eigene Spieler immer im Vordergrund zu sehen, ein Wechsel in der Perspektive entfällt. Dieses Verfahren hat natürlich auch seine Nachteile, ein wesentliches Manko ist die "Größe" des Screens: Statt beschaulichem Betrachten ist konzentriertes Starren angesagt!

Aber viel zu sehen gibt es bei Tennis Cup sowieso nicht, die grafische Aufmachung ist eher unscheinbar. Beim Sound hat man sich da schon mehr einfallen lassen, ein paar nette Saples sorgen für sehr realistische Akustik. Ein besonderes Bonbon ist dabei die digitalisierte Ansage des Spielstandes.

Auch sonst haben sich die Programmierer durchaus Mühe gegeben, ein Zwei-Spieler-Modus ist ebenso im Angebot wie das Training mit der Ballmaschine; man kann aus 32 verschiedenen Gegnern wählen und (im Championship-Mode) den Werdegang der eigenen Spielfigure mittels Save-Option archivieren.

Nach jedem Match erhält der Spieler einen kompletten Überblick über seine persönlichen Leistungen und Fähigkeiten, außerdem steigert sich mit der Zeit die Effizienz der Schläge. Bei der Teilnahme an internationalen Turnieren gelten die originalen Regeln; beim Davis Cup gilt also die Reihenfolge: Zwei Einzel, ein Doppel, zwei Einzel.

Wo viel Licht ist, ist meist auch viel Schatten, so auch bei Tennis Cup: Neben der unzureichenden Screengröße läßt vor allem die Animation der Spielersprites zu wünschen übrig. Die Bewegungen an der Grundlinie sind dermaßen ruckelig, daß Returns zur Qual werden. Die Steuerung wartet zwar mit einer Menge Schlagvarianten auf (vom Lob bis zum Top Spin ist alles vertreten), aber die träge Joystickabfrage kann dem Sportsmann schon den Tag verderben!

Trotzdem ist das Game kein Reinfall, an die Steuerung gewöhnt man sich früher oder später, und die ideenreiche Gestaltung mit dem freundlichen Schakehand vor jedem Match und dem Abspielen der jeweiligen National-hymnen wird Freunde des weißen Sports sicher über einen längeren Zeitraum an den Monitor bannen. (Norbert Beckers)

Tennis Cup 1 logo

PRICE: £24.99

Any tennis game I come across has to be pretty impressive if it is to retain my attention, simply because I have played World Tennis on the PC Engine. Whilst a console game might not seem relevant, once you have played the definitive version fo something everything else, rightly or wrongly, subsequently gets judged by its standards. It is a bit like having to drink cheap plonk after you have had a good bottle of wine.

Loriciels' output has been improving of late. Before last month's Sherman M4 their release record had been patchy in the extrame with the label being suttled around various UK companies for publishing purposes. Tennis Cup establishes them as a force to be reckoned with - for once it actually captures the style and feel of the game.

First impressions garnered from actually trying to hit a ball on court are mixed. Graphically it is quite well constructed with plenty of nicely saturated blues and greens for the backgrounds, and well proportioned characters. Trying to hit a ball is another matter entirely. Playing the computer I managed - service aside - to lay racket on ball once, only to have that swatted back disdainfully. But persevere, becausen the reward of finding a good game lies in wait.

Before you start a match you are given the opportunity to select a player. The possible options hint at real players offering you first names anf flags for nationality (e.g. Henri - France). Naturally there's British players. More importantly you can alter your own playing strengths and those of your partner by balancing power percentages on forehand, backhand ground strokes, volleys and service.

Whatever you do, do not go straight into a match. Take the offer to practice - realistically set up with a ball chucking machine. This is where you should get used to hitting the ball and direting it with spin and power. It can be done, and when you do it, it is very satisfying. The spirit and athleticism of tennis is well conveyed by the ncie animation on the players.

They move smoothly and they shape up to strike the ball realistically. The point to remember when you put that into practice is that hitting the fire button makes your player shape up for a shot, not strike the ball - releasing the fire button does that.

You can play in tournaments, doubles and exhibitions whilst there is the option to play on different surfaces too. Go for clay for starters as it is the slowest. Otherwise make a point of creating a weak opponent to begin with, otherwise you will get hammered.

Tennis Cup is the best representation of the sport I have seen on the Amiga, but it has a couple of flaws. Firstly you cannot palce the character with enough precision - he moes too far, and more importantly when the screen scrolls left and right it is unpleasantly jerky. That said, it is worth making allowances for, particularly when you get some generous sampled speech thrown in.

Tennis Cup 1 logo

Loriciel, Amiga £24.99

Tennis had more than its fair share of simulations, from Commodore's International Tennis to Ubi Soft's Pro Tennis Tour just last issue. The most common view is from one end of the court, a perspective which inevitably reduces the far court, making it harder to play from there in two-player games. Now Loriciel has come up with the answer - splitting the screen in two so each player has his own view of the action!

But there's plenty of other innovations as well. Each player - either human or one of 32 computer players - has six basic shots (from forehand to smash) of varying effectiveness. You start off with a skill rating of 50% for each shot, with 30 credit percentage points to distribute as you see fit. You can also reduce one shot's efficiency to get points for a more important shot. These characteristics can be saved, and vary according to match performance. For forehand and backhand shots higher percentages mean the ball will be better placed. For harder shots such as smash, volley etc the percentage reflects your chances of success.

32 computer players, including Ivan from Czechoslovakia, Boris from West Germany and Stefan from Sweden, all have set characteristics. However, you can create your own opponent if you should want and save him to disk.

After a short practice with a machine server, you might choose either a singles or doubles match on clay, grass, indoor, or hard court surfaces. Once familiar with the game, you can enter a tournament. All four Grand Slam events are here - Wimbledon, Flushing Meadow, Melbourne and Roland Garros - and you start off in the last sixteen.

The graphics change according to the event and surface, with a nice scene showing the players shake hands before the match. Even more impressive is the Davis Cup event, the international team game where you must compete in both singles and doubles. Before each match national anthems are played, and if you're doing badly you can 'Esc'ape onto the next match. Finally you can enter the Championship, which has all the tournaments and the Davis Cup.

Phil King Loriciel have served up probably their best game to date. The contest for the top tennis sim is really close between this and Ubi Soft's Pro Tennis Tour, but for its innovative split-screen display Tennis Cup gets my vote. The shallower viewpoint does make things a bit more tricky, but then it's also more realistic - does Boris Becker view his matches from overhead?! At first, as in Pro, hitting the ball is difficult but once mastered you can get into some really long rallies. I also appreciated the doubles option although this can be frustrating when your colleague (did I mention the Scorelord?) thinks he can score a goal by hitting the ball into the net! What definitely gives it the edge over Pro, is the way you can improve chosen abilities to suit your playing style. In tennis terms, Cup is an ace.
Scorelord This is without doubt the most comprehensive tennis game we've seen, including all the big tournaments, 32 opponents and good skill factors. The split-screen effect is such an obvious idea you wonder why no-one's done it before. But once you begin to play, hitting the ball is surprisingly tough - splitting the screen means court is shown from a shallower angle. This makes it harder initially, although practice can cure that.
As with Pro Tennis Tour there isn't a great difference between the various surfaces, and while Cup has a huge range of options the tennis itself doesn't quite beat the fun of Pro.