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Palace Software
Sport: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Kati Hamza
Chris Bourne

I was wretched, I was miserable, I was bored. Then I got this call from Matt. "Fancy a game of tennis?" he shouted down the crackling line. "S'pose so," I yelled back. "Who's playing?" "Oh, nobody special," came the enigmatic reply. "Just a bunch of triangles."

Tennis. A national sport since 1793 and played by masters all over the world - Lendl, McEnroe, Becker and, erm... triangles. Why? Because International 3D Tennis features exactly that - 3D accurate enough to send your Speccy into overdrive. It can just about cope with the court, it can just about manage to give you six different views of the action (four aerial and two side-on) but throw in a couple of realistic sprites as well and it turns into a quivering wreck. Yup, triangles are the only alternative. Obviously.

Oddly enough, these weird Toblerone-people are actually very spunkily animated. They hurl themselves into backhands, forehands and volleys with exactly the kind of grace and style you'd expect from highly intelligent geometric shapes. When you're thumping the ball about it honestly doesn't make much difference that they haven't got a face. Shut your eyes and you can't even tell.

But I'm rushing ahead as usual. First off, it's decision time. You can take part in an official tournament (hard), try your hand at amassing a huge wad of prize dosh in a season of tournaments (well hard) or just a one-off game (easy-ish). All matches are singles (one or two-player) and can run to one, three or a whopping five sets. There are four skill levels, 15 artificial opponents and four different surfaces - grass, cement, clay or carpet (yes, folks, it's true, tennis really is played on carpet). As for the psychedelic selection of court colours, well, there's blue, blue or blue.

It was on court, funnily enough, that something very unusual happened to me early on. I hit the ball. Well may you snigger, but it normally takes time to get used to the controls of a tennis game. 3D Tennis is different. You're automatically positioned in line with the ball so all you have to do is time your shot and stand the right distance away from the net. Slick, easy, fun. On Amateur and Semi-Pro there's even a flashing silver bar to let you know exactly when to hit the ball. So for smarmy smart-asses who want to control their own service and spin, Pro and Ace are best.

Once you've got into the swing of serving and spinning, all these natty options and nuances of control make for a rather juicy kind of match. As for the 3D, you don't really need it - I'd rather have had a bit more speed. Yes, you get six different viewpoints and very nice they look too, but I didn't use them much. It's a lot easier to judge shots on the boring old traditional display.

So there you have it. A very versatile tennis game that's easy to play, dimensionally spiffy, but just slightly too sluggish. If Wimbledon's your thang, suck it and see.

Nice 3D gameplay, shame about the sluggish speed. Well worth trying if Dan Maskell's your cuppa tea.


Screenshot Text

Here I am (in yellow) wiping the floor with the computer opposition and he's looking pretty white around the gills. Not much of a sporting triangle, is he?

And here we view the action in close-up. Breathtaking evidence that there's really no limit to what a triangle at the peak of it's physical fitness can achieve. Marvellous.