David Crane’s Amazing Tennis

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If tennis really looked like that, I probably still wouldn't play it, but I'd feel worse about myself.

I am beginning to think that the reason I don’t play sports games is simply that there were so many atrocious ones in my formative game-playing years that I trained myself to hate them.

Just like most such games, David Crane’s Amazing Tennis creates in the typical video game player a zen-like state of complete failure and bafflement.    What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to do it?  What is the difference between hitting A and B? Which blond-mulleted, spandex-clad player am I?  What are the rules for this sport?

I served about twelve times while playing this game today, and each time I failed completely to hit the ball when it was returned.   I’m not sure how I would do so. Actually, once, I got it, and it hit the net.

I find it interesting that the rules of the sport, critically important to gameplay as they are, are almost never actually contained within the game.  Could children and nerds be expected to know these rules, especially at the time this game was published and no one could just go look it up on Wikipedia?  I don’t think so.

Regardless, there is a certain perfect storm of bemusement, curiosity, ignorance, confusion and apathy that permeates my mind as I play these games, and most other SNES sports games.  I expect that this is how most normal people when they play any video game that relies on external knowledge and experience to let you decipher its arcane logics.  If a normal person were to, say, pick up and attempt to play a ridiculous Japanese fighting game like Blazblue, I think I know exactly how they feel, except for one critical difference: I am sure this game is bad, and whatever kernels of knowledge about the system and mechanics I could possibly dig out would not be worth half the effort they would require.

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