Tennis is one of those sports that I mostly enjoy when playing it as a video game. The thought to watch or play the sport in real life has never occurred to me. But show me a tennis video game and I am all over it, especially if it is of the unrealistic kind. I therefore decided to take look at Sports Heads: Tennis Open. A game that pits heads against each other through peaceful tennis activities.
A simple title screen greeted me with four different options, New Game, Continue Game, 2 player and Instructions. I thought to myself “how hard can it be to figure this game out? I don’t need instructions!” So I plunge myself headfirst into the game, choose my character and my difficulty level. The following screen shows me that I am going to play the USA Open tournament, and my first opponent is going to be a guy named Davide Ferrari. I eagerly click the huge green “Play Match” button.
When the match starts and I see the ball spawn above my chosen head, Juan Martin Del Pollo, I soon realize that I cannot control him with the mouse. I do everything I can to get him to move, but Juan just stands there, watching as the ball hits him in the head, bounces two times on my side of the court, giving my opponent 15 points as per the standard tennis scoring system. Now I do not know why I automatically presumed that the mouse was the way to control this game. Maybe that is just my assumption when playing a browser based PC game like this one. After backpedaling to the main menu I checked out the instructions button that I eagerly avoided at first. As expected it told me everything about how to play the game. My tennis career was on!
As I started winning and loosing matches, the stages became more elaborate, containing obstacles as well as a differently shaped roof. All of them were trying to stop my ball from soaring over the net to my opponents side of the court. Power ups both helped and hindered in this endeavor as well, by affecting the ball in both positive or negative ways, such as making it bigger, smaller, or more bouncy. They even affected the court at times by setting it on fire! This meant that the ball could not even touch the ground once, without it resulting in points for me or my opponent.
There is a bizarre feeling about Sports Heads: Tennis Open. It probably stems from the fact that I am not used to seeing heads playing tennis against each other. That is a good thing, as I would probably sit in an asylum somewhere if I saw such things. The head characters work well for the games simplicity however. And simplicity is what I want from a game played in a web browser, almost like a cell phone game. Something I can kill minutes with, not hours.
Now, if only we could find a way to add power ups/downs to real tennis. Then I would try it out in a heartbeat!