1-4 players, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
The Lynx library of sports games continues to grow, and the latest offering in this area is JIMMY CONNORS' TENNIS. Set at the Bella Country Club, home of the Jimmy Connors' Invitational Tennis Tournament, this card by Handmade Software lets one to four players get on the courts. Game options include singles and doubles games, court surface, four skill levels, and friendly or tournament play. At the top of the tournament ladder is Connors himself, waiting for a chance to challenge you.
There's a rule of thumb that talented professionals never need to promote themselves -- people will find the highly skilled for themselves. JIMMY CONNORS' TENNIS is analogous to this; it doesn't need flashy effects or catchy gimmicks, but instead presents a robust, high-quality sports game. While individual matches can be played for fun, the heart of the game is the tournament ladder, available for one or two players. You advance through a list of 24 players/teams by challenging and defeating the other entrants. A password feature between matches allows tournaments-in-progress to be saved between sessions.
The actual tennis game is a grueling challenge, requiring time and practice to fully master the game. Where to stand, when to swing, what swing to use, and where to aim all must be decided in seconds, and beginners will require quite a bit of patience at first. To help, the easier levels display squares to show where to stand in order to return the ball. The computer opponents are worthy opponents, gradually building in difficulty as you advance, and it is easy to lose several weeks, if not months, refining your game in hopes of winning the Invitational.
Sights and sounds on JIMMY CONNORS' TENNIS uphold the high standards for quality from Handmade Software. The game is viewed from behind your side of the court, and the ball's height and position is easily tracked. Players are drawn with great use of color, and while the animation is clean, they run with an awkward sideways shuffle.
Thankfully, the game is often quiet, as tennis should be; the most common sounds are the realistic thuds of the ball as it bounces off the ground or is hit on a swing. Loveliest of all are the digitized voices, crystal clear and among the best for the Lynx to date. The judge announces each score and fault, and Connors himself starts the game and offers blunt comments after matches.
As with AWESOME GOLF, Handmade Software has delivered a solid, no-nonsense portable version of the sport in JIMMY CONNORS' TENNIS. It is difficult without being frustrating, and sports buffs will gladly spend lots of time improving their skills. Challenging action, detailed graphics and crisp voices and sounds make this card a welcome addition to the Lynx.
GAMEPLAY: 8 GRAPHICS: 9 SOUND: 9.5 OVERALL: 8