World Court Tennis – The Pearly Gates

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

Off the coast of Tokyo I had discovered a tennis court surrounded by a vast moat. I assumed it had to be the remains of Osaka Castle.

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This assumption defied all conventions of basic geography, so it had to be correct. Before I ran into this hidden fortress to take my seat on its throne of tennis blood, however, I did what any good tennis ronin would have done: I retreated back through the lower depths of Japan and secured the perimeter. Also, Yojimbo. Allow me to translate that from cinephile jackass:

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Way back in Chapter 4, I had noticed that there was another tennis court right outside of Tokyo that I had yet to conquer. As this one was freely accessible by land, video game logic dictated that it would be home to a much weaker tennis pro. I’d weaken the perimeter and then crash the gates.

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This court was home to Keefe. Judging by his flowing mane and the feline quality of his facial features, I presumed him to be the lord of the tennis cat people – king of the Tokyo jungle. Or maybe he was just a spray-tanned crackhead with a tennis racket. Probably both. Either way, he probably had a pearl.

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While Keefe put up a surprisingly good fight, he was no match for my particular brand of prophesied revenge-fueled tennis rage™. I was now 3 pearls short of the whole necklace. That was the best possible metaphor to use.

I started back towards Tokyo… but I stopped. What if there was another court over the horizon? Only a fool would try to storm a castle without fully weakening its defenses. The last thing I wanted to do was commence my siege, only to fall victim to a naval bombardment of Sam Groth velocity serves from the imperial navy. In an abundance of caution I sailed north from Tokyo. It was there I learned the horrifying truth about the geography of Tennis Kingdom.

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While you wouldn’t know it from this picture, the tennis globe isn’t a globe at all. IT’S COMPLETELY FLAT. I could sail my tube this far and no further. The post-apocalyptic tennis wasteland theory was now right out. No weapon of mass destruction was powerful enough to unfurl an entire globe. Now that I thought about it, the Tennis Pangaea theory didn’t wash either; there were islands in this world. This had to be an alternate Earth. The only explanation could be that tennis world was a magical tennis court propped on the back of an enormous tennis turtle.

Turtlecourt
Tennis Kingdom, from space, as theorized by our research department.

Before I lost my sanity to the sheer void of spatial logic before me, I refocused myself on the task at hand, and searched the seas to the east. There, I found another solitary hut. Barging in uninvited, as was my wont (perhaps this is why the lobotomites had been so generally unhelpful), I was immediately propositioned by another gentleman with a spit curl.

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Despite my requests that he buy me dinner first, the man continued his approach. Tennis Kingdom really has an issue with consent. Suddenly, the screen flashed.

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And with that, I was unceremoniously expelled from the stranger’s hut.

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Let this be a lesson to all those that would travel the seas of Tennis Kingdom: do not walk into a stranger’s house unless you’re willing to have your racket forcibly enlarged. Consult your doctor if racket enlargement lasts longer than 6 hours.

IS THAT ANYWAY TO TREAT YOUR PROPHESIED HERO? Despite feeling used and trashy, I couldn’t help but view this as some kind of blessing in disguise. As all tennis in this existential hell was played on a 2D plane, theoretically, a larger racket would equate to less dropped volleys. I would abide this atrocity in stride in the name of forging my legend.

After that ugly affair, I didn’t feel like exploring any more. Tennis islanders were a superstitious, cowardly, and touchy-grabby lot. I sailed back to Osaka Castle and stormed the battlements. Inside, I found a man with the very Japanese name of “Wirt.”

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As you can tell from the only file photo of Wirt I am able to produce due to technical difficulties, he just couldn’t handle the size of my racket. He was more or less Wirthless.

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Are you done laughing yet? There’s an unwritten rule about video game quests of any type: if an enemy is isolated in a remote or hard to reach location, they will be uncommonly strong. In complete defiance of all gaming logic, isolating himself on a remote island had not improved Wirt’s tennis acumen one bit. Even the rules of game design don’t apply in Tennis Kingdom.

Having thoroughly exhausted all the prospective pearl locations in the North, I turned my search to the South… you know, towards Toronto and London.

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In the Rocky Mountain foothills east of Spain, I found another secluded court. Under standard rules of video game engagement, mountain strongholds are right up there with secluded island fortresses. Surely, a legendary challenge awaited me within.

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Her name was Brien, truly a tennis yuppie name if there ever were one. I had encountered this face before. It was the face of the woman I had met in the middle of Lake Superior. The one who couldn’t help me. I had cursed myself. Assuredly, the clone in Toronto’s waters had told her master that I was coming. Undoubtedly, Brien would be prepared.

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She wasn’t. Brien has the distinction of being the only one of the Evil Tennis King’s minions to double fault. In fact, she double faulted twice. Astonishingly, she didn’t even get the benefit of the time-honored “ladies are faster than men” video game trope. While I applauded the Evil Tennis King’s desire to maintain an equal-opportunity work environment, CLEARLY he had not done his due diligence on this hire.

Having just vanquished three of the Evil Tennis King’s lieutenants, I was flush with Warren Buffett levels of Tennis Złoty. I now had the means to buy my way to true power; to upgrade to “A”gassi level gear. I marched back to Toronto, slapped down a cool half million, and suited up in the gear of a true champion. No sooner did I grasp the racket of the great one, was I struck with a powerful vision.

No Andre, there were no questions. There were only two hurdles left to clear, and I knew exactly what I had to do.

NEXT TIME: THE FINAL CHAPTER!

World Court Tennis – The Endgame Begins

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

Had I known I was up against Tennis Satan himself, perhaps I might not have rushed headlong into humiliating defeat. It was going to take more than my legendary forehand and prophesied tennis instincts to take down the Evil Tennis King and free Tennis Kingdom from… uh… well…

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You know, I still wasn’t sure just what this world needed to be “saved” from. Sure, it was geographically a mess, but that was about it. All anybody did here was play tennis. I mean, I can’t blame “a” Tennis King for being a little bit antsy about having a green tennis demon/doppelganger living at the North Pole, but it seemed like he mostly kept to himself. On top of that, nobody in Tennis Kingdom seemed like they were particularly unhappy or evil (except maybe the tennis rapists and this guy). There were tennis courts EVERYWHERE. How bad could this place really be?

None of that truly mattered anymore, though. I’d gone too deep, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave tennis kingdom without avenging my loss. I had to know that I truly was THE GREATEST TENNIS PLAYER IN THE LAND. My battles thus far had taught me exactly how to accomplish this goal: OBTAIN BETTER SPORTING GOODS THAN MY OPPONENTS.

I knew a few things:

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1.  A man in Toronto was selling “A”gassi ranked gear. At this point in time, I lacked the funds to acquire that gear.

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2. There were six “fixed” tennis courts in Tennis Kingdom (as in “not the ones that materialize out of thin air every five seconds”). I had conquered two of those courts when I defeated Witt and Sevens. Each of those victories had earned me a pearl. Presumably if I could find the other four pearls, something good would happen.

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3. There was a big lake in Paris. Something should be there.

As I wasn’t in the mood to run headlong back into a tennis match just yet, I figured the first logical step was to warp back to Paris and check out that lake. Now that i had an inner tube, aquatic exploration would not be an issue.

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Sure enough, something WAS in the great Parisian sea. An isolated doghouse. I wondered how many tennis francs this primo piece of real estate had cost. Inside?

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Finally! The mystery of the pearls revealed! I’m no economist, but something told me that this guy would have better luck moving his merchandise if he set more reasonable prices. Currency that you can only obtain by beating the world’s greatest tennis pros is necessarily in short supply. I guess you have to dream big if you live on an isolated island with no means of escape.

At this point in time, I concluded that the next logical step would be to fight my way across the wilderness looking for the remaining tennis courts, while at the same time gradually earning the tennis food stamps necessary to purchase that “A”gassi gear. I was curious though… there had been lakes in Toronto and Tokyo. Why didn’t I check them out first?

Well I’ll be, Toronto apparently had a lake-dweller as well.

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A step up in quality from the Parisian doghouse I had just visited, no doubt. What useful information would I find here?

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You know, if I lived in the middle of a lake in post-apocalyptic Canada, I would probably be asking for help instead of refusing to dole it out, but hey, what did I know. Maybe I’d find the Japanese to be a little more hospitable? I warped back to Tokyo and took to the seas.

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A-ha. Whatever I was about to find, I was sure it wasn’t going to be hospitable. It was time to make like Commodore Perry and bust Japan wide open.

NEXT TIME: PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS

World Court Tennis – Totally Tubular

Scan0006World Court Tennis
TurboGrafx-16, 1989
Developer: Namco
Publisher: NEC

London had become a desolate husk. Other than some sweet “B” ranked gear, jolly old England had nothing to offer me – nothing but a a clue, that is. My next destination was “south of the maze.” Having no idea where the maze was, however, this “clue” was all but useless. Lacking any indication as to where to proceed next, I held my racket aloft and prayed to the spirit of legendary tennis warrior Björn Borg for guidance. I’m pretty sure he told me to head east. This was quite convenient, as it was the only corner of the sub-Spanish dessert continent I had yet to explore.

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East of the Spanish desert and the sylvan remnants of England, I found a mountain range, which I assume had to be the Rockies, because that made the least amount of sense. My “B” ranked gear held true, however; my fancy new shirt scared off most of the homicidal tennis cat-men I encountered along the way, and the ones that weren’t frightened away quickly wound up on the wrong side of 40-love.

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I emerged from the South Dakota foothills to encounter a small island village, separated from the rest of Tennis Pangaea by the smallest of bridges. This would be the last town I would encounter in my journey. I’m out of geography jokes… so let’s just guess. Canada?

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Oh, hi Witt. Something was happening  This perversely distorted geographic hellhole was starting to make sense to me.

Toronto was in no better shape than any of the other once-thriving metropolises I had encountered during my quest.

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Canada’s most populous city had been reduced to four residents: one shopkeeper, the obligatory greeter, and two canuck lobotomites. Let’s take the grand tour, shall we?

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I did not need any more advice on shoes. After all, I had WALKED all the way from Chicago to get here.

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An inner tube, you say? What use could that possibly have on a tennis court? Then again, what use did I have for magical pearls? Björn Borg would want me to do this.

Now as for the shop….

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“A” ranked gear! My God, could the “A” stand for…

…Agassi? It had to. I couldn’t afford it just yet, but I knew I would need to have the image of a rebel if I was going to take down the Evil Tennis King and marry Brooke Shields. I’d need to earn some money on my tube quest.

Using my new-found prophesied GPS powers, I deduced that the maze had to be somewhere north of Toronto – you know, through the Rockies towards Paris. I steeled myself for the journey ahead and left Toronto with determination in my heart.

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Yep, this sure looked like a maze.

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It certainly had some labyrinthine qualities.

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Yep, some dead ends too.

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More than a few, actually.

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At long last, after an hour of wandering the misty Canadian mountains, stopping every five steps to tennis battle this disturbed looking individual, I had found it. This had to be where I would find the mysterious inner tube of legend, which would undoubtedly send me floating down the lazy river to glory.

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YOU RAT SOUP EATING SPIT CURL HAVING PIECE OF YUKON TRASH! WHO LIVES IN THE MIDDLE OF A MYSTERIOUS MOUNTAIN MAZE IF THEY HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DISTRIBUTE TO RANDOM QUESTING HEROES? SOME OF US HAVE DAY JOBS! Seriously though, what did this guy eat? The nearest town was three screen lengths away! Tennis balls. It had to be tennis balls. Either that, or he was a cannibal. There’s no wildlife in Tennis Kingdom other than roving cat people and tennis rapists.

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…so after about another hour, I found this place.

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Thank God. Hey buddy – maybe tell your cannibal clone on the other side of the maze to stop being such a dick. Did this man have any other nuggets of wisdom for me?

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FINALLY! USEFUL ADVICE! It was time to put a bullet in this quest. After two hours of wandering near-aimlessly through the Yukon, I was ready to unleash my fury on something. And now I knew exactly where that something was. It was time to take to the seas.

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Thankfully, there’s no marine life, tennis frogmen, or any other type of aquatic danger in the seas of Tennis Kingdom. I steered my tube to the North. I didn’t have the power of Agassi yet, nor had I grabbed all of the pearls, but I felt I was ready – my rage would not be quelled.

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North of the maze and to the east of Tokyo, I happened upon a secluded castle.  Inside…?

SURPRISES indeed! I had at last learned the horrible truth about my adversary. In addition to being green, the EVIL TENNIS KING WAS ALSO THE DEVIL. THE DEVIL. I HAD BEEN TASKED WITH DEFEATING THE DEVIL IN A THREE SET MATCH OF TENNIS. His serve was unbeatable… utterly unbeatable. For all my fury, I was powerless against Beelzebub, lord of the Tennis flies. I would need something more. Something… magic.

NEXT TIME: DIVINE RETRIBUTION….?