The App Store has just served up an arcade classic in an all new form. Tennis Champs Returns is based on the original Amiga arcade game, but redone for today’s standards with iOS in mind. The game provides a tennis simulation with the look of the classic, but infused with an all new physics engine, touch control scheme, and AI system. The emphasis of the game is the tennis gameplay to let you hit the ball exactly where you want it with precise serves, lobs, smashes, volleys, and more.
Tennis Champs Returns revolves around the career mode with a 200 player world ranking leaderboard to climb your way up by competing in tournaments. There are various tournament tiers to partake in, and each competition helps you upgrade your player to make your way to majors. The career mode is extremely deluxe with a weekly calendar to play through with dynamic world rankings, multiple tournaments to choose from at any given time, and a progression system. Your player has multiple skills that can be upgraded as you level up, and there’s also a training center to work on particular aspects of your player’s game. There is a ton to play through, and the best part is that the game gets you interested in continuing to play.
Tennis Champs Returns absolutely nails the tennis experience with surprisingly precise touch controls. You begin by trying to figure out the power meter, movement style, and shot types, but after about a match or two, you feel fully in control. It’s extraordinary how you can fully control the tennis action so quickly, and move from looking at the shot meter, to instinctively tapping and holding at the proper times to pull off a variety of shots. There are so many ways to knock the ball around, and yet it becomes like second nature to let you focus on the challenge of the AI opponents. One problem though, is that when the match flips sides, and you’re on the away court, it’s tough to have proper depth perception.
This review comes with a word of warning, as Tennis Champs Returns becomes very difficult as you move up the world rankings. At the outset, you can knock the ball to the corners to get past your opponent, but it feels as though the AI learns your tendencies, and counteracts them. The AI opponent seems to have an answer to your moves at the beginning, so you need to evolve your game to incorporate top spin, floaters, and advanced serves to stand a chance. The difficulty curve has a sharp spike once you reach the top 100, and you can move from winning a match without giving up a point to being skunked. It can be a bit frustrating, but the challenge increase fits in with the real world idea of moving up the global rankings, and facing off in different tournaments on a weekly basis. There are just so many little details in the development of the tennis matches that it feels like a brand new challenge each time you level up.
Tennis Champs Returns (Free, Universal) is an amazing gaming experience that brilliantly delivers tennis on iOS making it a must have. The game is also free to play with ads, or an in-app purchase to remove ads with a bundle of coins.