We’re a long way from “Philadelphia Freedom.”
A less enticing alternate cover. Look! 8KB!
PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous
RELEASE DATE: 1983 (JP)
Champion Tennis doesn’t let you choose from an array of famous tennis players, like Billie Jean King, Anna Kournikova or Andre Agassi. There’s no optional difficulty, like in Nintendo’s Tennis. You can’t win money from matches to purchase different rackets or customize players’ apparel. Heck, outside of serving, you’re not even allowed to control the swing of your racket. There’s two-player simultaneous play, but no, you can’t play doubles (I envision the SG-1000 melting as it tries to process such a laborious request). Appreciate Champion Tennis as the spartan thirty-year-old endeavor that it is, or deride the game for being little more than a Pong clone dressed in a short skirt and starched white socks.
Who plays on a funky multi-colored tennis court at night? Hooligans with dreams, that’s who.
My own opinion lies somewhere in the middle: Champion Tennis can be entertaining if you get a back-and-forth groove going with your opponent, but the matches are downright racket-breaking when, for example, you keep hitting the net with your ball and you’re unsure why.
Say you start a one-player game. Player 1 is the blue guy, while your opponent is the pink guy… or girl. Serve with Button I, then race to where you think the computer will hit the ball. As I mentioned before, you don’t swing your racket. You position your player in front of the ball, the ball ricochets off of him, and the game goes back and forth like that. There’s no strategy involved.
Imagine both players as slender, stretched out rectangles and, uh, you have Sega’s Pong with a net. The computer opponent varies between too-good and dull: there’s shots the computer would lob that were impossible for my slow-moving blue guy to reach, but other times, we would be hitting the ball back-and-forth to each other and the computer would just stop hitting the ball, as if it had reached its back-and-forth limit or something; in the latter example, I scored a point, but said point felt ill-gotten. As per usual with sports games, Champion Tennis really benefits from a second-player.
“Slow down, Bubblegum. Some of us have rickets.”
Standard tennis rules apply for Champion Tennis. Scoring works thusly: first point counts as 15, second counts as 30, then 40, and the fourth point wins the match. Hitting the net on a serve counts as a fault, and hitting the net twice counts as a double fault and a point for your opponent. Serving a bad-ass shot into the opponent’s side counts as an ‘Ace’ and a point. Whoever wins five matches in a row is crowned the “Eternal Champion of Tennis Now and Forevermore or at Least Until the Game Resets, Amen.” Champion Tennis isn’t as frustrating as putting in Champion Golf, but it’s also barely a tennis game. In summation, Sega’s flying drunk and fast with their definition of the word “champion.”