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Davis Cup Tennis - GBA - Review

Serving up some fun court action, Ubi Soft is here to deliver Davis Cup Tennis for the Gameboy Advance. I have never played tennis on any console, much less in my hands on such a small device as the GBA. I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. Right out of the box, the game was entertaining and fun to play.

The Davis Cup is America's version of Wimbledon, only with teams. Some people, in fact, prefer it to the grass only courts and snobbish rules and pageantry. In the Davis Cup, the fans are more rowdy, and the experience is more fun to watch. So, making a video game version of it would have to be tough. 

142 countries participate, and you can play as any country/team you wish. I stuck with the U.S. most of the time. You can play a quick game, or the Davis Cup tourney itself. The quick game allows you to select your opponent and go one on one, whereas the Davis Cup is more "real", and you are subject to the various teams as they progress. If you play in the Davis Cup, you have to select your team. Select wisely. The players you choose need to be designed for long term success. Players are given ratings on their speed, return, accuracy and serving ability. Matching the right player against the opponent is helpful. One thing missing from this game, versus many other sports titles, is the roster of real players. You will not see Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras or Anna Kournikova (darn!!). 

Playing this game can be a bit tricky. Tennis moves fast in real life, and this is no exception. It gave my thumbs quite a workout. Fortunately, there is an "auto-positioning" mode. That was a bit tricky to learn. Holding down the direction pad (in the direction of the desired move) and the "A" button at the same time makes the player go to the ball and return it automatically..... you hope. There is an annoying delay with that maneuver, and that makes you uneasy about using it. But, once you get used to that delay, it is an advantage to use it. I tried manual and auto-positioning, and was a much better player using the "cheat". 

Serving is done with the familiar "golf swing" meter. Push the button and the level meter starts. Push the button again as close to the end of the bar as possible-- and you get a strong serve. I even managed to ace the opponent several times with a solid, blinking serve meter!

The sound and graphics are very good. Being used to blowing up monsters and fighting level bosses for so long, it was nice to see something like this on the GBA. The sound "as-is" was so-so, but with headphones, the voices and noises were great. It helped add to the experience. Hitting the tiny ball as it zips over the net is tricky because of the small size of everything, but practice will make it easier. Still, there is a lot of work to learn where to swing as the ball comes to your side.

Using the auto-positioning, this is a fun game and the levels from easy to hard are not that different compared to many games. It has some good replay value, and tennis fans will really want to have this in their collection. The screen size is just right for a sport like this-- versus basketball or football where there is so much to watch and cover. Davis Cup Tennis is a winner, and a good deal of fun to play.  

Gameplay: 8
Use of the auto-positioning option is vital. With that, you can have great success playing for long periods of time. The games go by fast, and you feel a thrill from executing a nice shot over the net. Playing the Davis Cup tourney itself is a huge undertaking, but as you can be the Team Captain, it is fun and challenging. 

Graphics: 7.5 
The graphics are good for this system. It is hard to bring sports games to a small screen like the GBA, but they pull it off. Tennis is an ideal sport title for a small screen and limited processor ability. 

Sound: 8
Though best appreciated with headphones, the sound is very good. The voices are clear and loud, and the environmental game noises are authentic. The music was mostly disco, however, and very annoying.  

Difficulty: Medium
Very easy to play right out of the box, but mastering the auto-positioning will enhance you success greatly. 

Concept: 7.5 
Tennis on a game console is not new, but they have done a good job with it here. The lack of ranked, authentic players is odd to tennis fans, but if you just want to play it for the heck of it, it's fine.

Multiplayer: 8
You can play against the computer, or head to head with up to three other players with the GBA links. I did not get to experience that, but Ubi Soft promises it is a good experience.

Overall: 7.5
While probably not the most popular sport in the country, tennis can be fun to watch, and I enjoyed playing it from the comfort of my recliner. With the headphones, it was a enveloping experience with plenty of challenge, and good replay value. Aside from the annoying disco music, the time flew by without many negative, play-related distractions.

Good

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