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Match Point

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Released: 1984

Genre: Sports

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Sinclair

Developer: Psion Software

Submitted by: Ian Marks

A good tennis game on the Sinclair Spectrum… You cannot be serious!

How we all love tennis in this country, why look at the superstars we’ve created in the game… there’s Tim Henman and that miserable Scottish one… Nowadays anyone British winning a major tournament seems a distant impossible memory, but in 1984 I could still just about remember a Brit winning a game, with Virginia Wade in 1977… and anyway tennis was great in the 80’s with Bjorn and John and Jimmy and the like… what we needed was a great tennis game, and Psion provided it.

I shall start by saying that Match Point was fantastic. It not only looked great, with good use of colour and excellent character animation, but it also played great. A true sports simulation masterpiece on the humble ZX Spectrum… no really it is… try it today, it really is still playable.

The little men/women look great and attention to detail is wonderful, I particularly like the way they bounce the ball before they serve, and the little ball boys running in when you hit the net… unfortunately you can’t throw balls at them (a la Tim Henman). I also like the crowd, who are drawn as coloured dots, but look quite effective looking left and right, for the Spectrum, and they’ve even found time to put in an umpire for you to argue with!

The important bit to stress though is that it really does play a good game of tennis. You really do feel worn out running around the court. You can stay on the base line, or run in to the net. The controls are responsive, and crucially if you miss the ball it usually feels like it was your fault, not because of bad programming. If it has an issue it’s that the computer selects forehand and backhand for you, but you do get used to this. The computer also plays a fairly intelligent game with what seemed at the time like good AI, actually it still seems OK today.

In truth I don’t really like real tennis, and I hated actually playing the game at school… far too much running about for my liking. Perhaps that’s why we don’t produce any really good tennis players in this country… they were all hunched over their rubber keyboard playing a computer opponent, when they should have been out on court.

Good old reliable Psion, they knew how to write good Spectrum games… (except Horace and the Spiders… I hated that!)