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"Top Ranking Tennis" is a video game released to the Gameboy console in 1993. While this game was released for the original Gameboy system, I found it to be working on the later Gameboy Color though the display was in a slightly greenish tinge during testing. I was not able to immediately find an age rating for it but would suggest it to be suitable for all ages. In game chronology, "Top Ranking Tennis" follows after the original "Tennis" title. It is said to have made considerable improvements over the original game, offering the player more challenge and variation within gameplay. Each computer opponent reacts differently to certain shots and this would likely offer the player an extended appeal due to the constant differences which await him or her. The developers also implemented an interesting technique within the game which allows the player to press the function keys, start and select, when executing different shots alongside the typical "A" and "B" keys. As the "Start" key is used to make a shot the player must tap the up arrow twice if he or she wishes to pause the game. The graphics are satisfactory when considering the year of release. There is some element of pixelation in both the tennis ball and tennis court lines but this could be seen as acceptable due to the Gameboy being in its primitive stages at the time. Character detailing is likewise acceptable and featured sharp, well connected lines when drawing and even went as far as to create a white headband against black hair. The audio is somewhat repetitive in the sound effects, there is a simple "pop" with each ball landing, but this could be expected. I do enjoy this title and would be happy to recommend it to prospective buyers. It is somewhat standard as far as tennis and other sport themed games are but does offer some interesting implements and difficult settings.
Sadly I might never get to play this against someone never mind in 4 players. PRESENTATION What looks like an American football player as chair umpire and an audience who wouldn't pass for as people stay static. Your player is solidly shaded whilst your opponents appears as an outline. But each of your competitors do see to individual character sprites, with those higher up in the rankings having an avatar if not a unique theme tune also. There are three types of surfaces which not only look but play differently. And whilst the ball does not bounce true off the walls, an opposition overhead smash can see the ball get to quite a size as it comes close to the 'camera'! I wouldn't say the view provided is always perfect, but it's no problem after a while. Whilst I feel those who think the Game Boy audio is just beeps should just *BEEP* off themselves I never thought the handheld be able to pull off voice samples. Ironically though, when playing this on the Game Boy Color and the Game Boy Advance SP, the sounds suffer with the voices clipping, if not, becoming beeps. The Super Game Boy emulates the audio well, but the opposition sprite flicker seems bad on the bigger screen. CONTROLS Top Ranking Tennis opts for a range of serves and shots over accessibility, so inconveniently, both the Select and Start buttons sees to strokes; the game can only be paused by tapping Up twice before service toss. It can take a while to get a feel for the tennis - you'll need to strike at the sweet spot or otherwise it can be a mishit. So it feels realistic. It's subtle enough that there are service lets, but not enough that, should you play as a player with a delicate shot then you could pull them off consecutively. CHALLENGE There is battery back-up so 4 players can climb the rankings. Your choice of shot and run level (A, B or C) for your character can determine by degrees just how challenging your opposition are, and it can also bring about replay value. Make no mistake though, whilst I disagree with the order of the rankings, those towards the top are truly tough and you must exploit their weaknesses and come up with winners. The opposition never feel cheap - rather, for their aces they do commit double-faults and unforced errors. So it feels realistic, and as well as that it can get intense! To top the rankings in this tough title was a great feeling! And true to the game, doubles tennis is a different kettle of fish to singles matches. Now, when you lose an official game your ranking (if applicable) drops one. Since you can only challenge whomever is directly avail above, should you drop below the previous competitor then you might find yourself alternatively winning and losing to the same opposition. Not something a quick reset before ranking update cannot sort though! As for Practice matches, you pick a player below you in the rankings and call the shots i.e. choose the court and no. of sets. CONCLUSION It's worth preserving with Top Ranking Tennis - it at least matches, if not beats, many of the tennis games on the more advanced consoles for depth. And unless Jimmy Connor has something to say about it, it deserves to be the top ranking tennis game on the old Game Boy. Such is the strength just going solo - it's up there with the tennis game greats.