Game: Pro Tennis World Court
System: PC Engine (HuCard)
Release date: 1988
Pro Tennis World Court is widely known--to 16-bit afficionados, at least--as "the tennis RPG." There's a good reason for that: Along with the expected singles and doubles modes, this Namcot-published game features a "quest" mode that tasks players with wandering the Final Fantasy-esque lands of the creatively named (or not) "Tennis Kingdom" in search of the "Evil Tennis King." (I'm not making this up--check out this blog post for more on this title's sad excuse for a backstory.) Before you can challenge this lizard-like baddie (he's green) to a Nadal-Federer-ish face-off, you'll have to vanquish a number of his minions in tennis matches of varying lengths. You'll also have to upgrade your equipment (rackets, shoes and shirts--which boost your character's power, foot speed and ability to refuse challenges, respectively) using the winnings you receive after beating the aforementioned, randomly-encountered foes. All in all, it's an enjoyably unique, if slightly unpolished (you'll know what I'm talking about when you approach your first NPC), experience. You'll have to be patient if you want to eke every last ounce of fun out of the game, though, as it starts rather slowly. Thankfully, things speed up appreciably once you update your gear a bit. Even then, Pro Tennis World Court (World Court Tennis in the States) never feels quite as slick or arcade-y as another well-known PC Engine title featuring fuzzy, yellow balls--Final Match Tennis--but its quirkiness at least partially makes up for it.
See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts