I hate tennis.
Sorry, that came out all wrong. Let me try again.
As a sport, I fucking hate tennis.
Okay, we’ll have to live with that one.
International Tennis Tour is an action/role-playing game* that puts you in the shoes of a professional tennis player on the rise to superstardom, although the inevitable downward spiral into depression, alcoholism, and an endless string of failed marriages after surpassing your usefulness as an athlete was apparently cut from the North American release due to Nintendo’s “family friendly” policy in effect at the time. Early on, you can spend your time building up your skills through the game’s various practice modes, after which you can proceed to hone your abilities even further in various exhibition matches and tournaments before unleashing vicious, unbridled country-club fury over the world in championship mode. The entire process is a wondrous quest of learning, not only about the exciting world of tennis, but also about oneself.
I, for one, learned that I suck at this game.
Unfortunately, my “review copy” did not come with an instruction manual. One would have been helpful, considering that just about every single button seems to perform a different type of shot. What resulted wasn’t so much my playing tennis, but more of my wrasslin’ with the controls, trying to keep from hitting the ball out of bounds or into the net—and this was only when I was trying to serve! Needless to say, I’m bad at wrasslin’ as well, which is somewhat unfortunate, as there seems like there might be a decent game here once you get your wrasslin’ skills in tune.
The somewhat steep viewing angle on the court doesn’t work too well, either. On many occasions, I found myself completely misjudging the distance of the ball across the court, missing a return shot by a mile as the computer player mocks me silently, while my wife sits disappointingly in the stands, pondering whether she still has the patience to keep on putting up with our train wreck of a marriage and whether our poor son will grow up to be as much of a failure as his father. Other times, I would think that I actually managed to hit the ball, later to find that my character apparently tried to return the shot by letting it hit his face or groin instead. I mean, I don’t play tennis much, but that seems like an ineffective maneuver.
Furthermore, looking at any given character in the game is like looking at the evolution of man simply giving up and retreating a couple hundred thousand years or so, regrettably bringing tennis along with it. I mean, the formula must go something like:
- Take one (1) person of random ethnic descent.
- Put them in a room with a curiously aroused chimpanzee.
- Stir vigorously.
- Yeah…keep stirring, baby…
- Call Dr. Moreau to cover the rest, ‘cuz I’m pretty sure I’m about to lose my lunch.
Anyway, go play Mario Tennis.
* Kinda sorta not really.