There are excellent tennis titles. There are good tennis titles. And
there are tennis titles that are plain awful. This, unfortunately, is
one that fits the last category. But its good looks and guile on the
Game Boy Advance, in addition to official license of the Davis Cup, may
fool some people. Two minutes into the game, however, and you'll
realize that there are some serious shortcomings to this tennis game. I
stress game because no part of this, aside from the title, is related to
an actual simulation of the sport of tennis.
By now, tennis titles are often done in two manners. One is 3D, a
slightly skewed camera angle. The other is a 2D top-down perspective
that lets you see both players' heads. Davis Cup uses a vantage point
that almost puts you behind the back of the player, looking at the game
from little above the height of the net. True, I imagine it's supposed
to get you into the feel of tennis itself. However, as I mentioned in
the beginning, there's not much tennis to be found here.
A cursory glance at Davis Cup's character models and you'll think you're
in for a great tennis game. The characters serve and volley with fluid
animation. Though the players themselves are not licensed but generic,
they certainly look like pros - if the pros were as stiff and rigid as
wind-up action figures. Davis Cup only lets you do a few moves: like
A, B and A + B together. If tennis were that simple, I'm sure I would
be making millions of dollars, traveling to European cities and getting
mobbed by female fans with sexy accents. Because of the static animated
wind-up for serves and volleys, you're unable to control how hard you
hit the ball with the racket and you barely have any control on where
you want the ball to go, much less a grasp of simple tennis moves like
smashing. Simply move within the vicinity of the ball, hit a button and
your character will go into action.
For the duration of all your matches, the lengthy road to winning the
Davis Cup, you'll be shuffling the ball back and forth across the court,
hoping someone drops their concentration and misses. That's Davis Cup
in a nutshell. Repeat matches many times with other generic players in
the 'campaign' mode. This is about as fun and exciting as seeing
Forrest Gump keep a ping pong ball alive against the wall all by
Had the developers implemented this as a game device, it would be more
interesting. You can actually accrue experience and improve your
character. So if this title were to allow you to add more moves, faster
wind-ups, or at the very least, make your player go faster, I would have
found it excusable. But it looks like the stock animation is all you'll
get here. With no other game mode, your real challenge will be with a
live human friend. Just make sure he or she is patient.
Considering the lengthy (and sometimes pointless) matches, the
developers for Davis Cup seriously dropped the ball on omitting an
in-game save. Finally, you might be able to use your three moves to
pound your opponent into submission. But then you realize you can't
stop the game for much more than a washroom break. If you wish to pause
to finish the match for a later time, think about investing in an A/C
adapter and keeping your Game Boy on indefinitely. That reminds me of a
childhood friend who wanted to 'save' his Bionic Commando game on the
NES. He simply kept it on pause and kept the machine going all night.
I guess that Davis Cup license must have put a financial pinch on the
amount of work that could go into the game.
Overall, there's very little to recommend about Davis Cup. Its official
sponsors and licenses give the illusion that it signed up all the
marquee players. That, unfortunately, is not the case here. In the
final analysis, that scenario represents a microcosm of the work that
went into the entire title; signing up the cup, but signing none of the
players. Similarly, the game's players look great but don't play great.
The lack of follow through in so many departments should urge buyers to
look elsewhere for a game of tennis.