Company: Pax Softonica (distributed by Vap)
Platform: Nintendo Famicom
Controller: Default controller for the console.
Mid 80s, and us videoplayers were able to enjoy a considerable amount of different sport titles in as many platforms, being the most prominent the titles about popular sports in the main markets of North America, Japan and Europe, like american football, baseball and football.
As the technology was improving, more sports titles were being added, in some cases it was understable that titles about athletics were developed close to Olympic Games, but one I never would have thought was the one about badminton, which appared as a demo sport in 1972, exhibition one in 1988, and finally added to the Olympic Program in 1992, mainly dominated by China.
This videogame about badminton was developed by a company with experience in the NES console, the company Pax Softonica, which had the videogame Volleyball for 8 bit consoles. It was logical to attempt again creating a videogame of passing an object over a net, just like badminton.
Just like Voleyball, the videoplayer has available choosing between using a male or a female virtual athlete. The difference is not so sharp, but clearly visible in the uniform.
With the keypad, the videoplayer can move the virtual athlete at the court where the match is being played. With one button the player can return the shuttlecock to the rival, but it depends a lot of the height of the shuttlecock and when the button is pressed, in how it will travel to the other side of the net. It’s possible to alter slightly the trajectory pressing the keypad when pressing the button, and it’s mandatory when trying to score. Also if the button is pressed too early, the raquet will stay still and the devolution will be a weak one. I had a real hard time figuring out when to press the button to hit the shuttlecock.
The other button makes the virtual athlete to jump, which is useless when pressed alone. However, when pressing first this button, and then almost immediatly, the other one, and at the same time, hit the shuttlecock, this will travel a lot faster above the net and, probably, surprise the rival. I was not able to execute properly this sequence a lot of times, and it’s hard to do it properly. But when made, it was sure to get the point… err, change possession, because the score has the same rules of volleyball. Meaning that after winning two consecutive points, the score will start to add up.
Also, consider that the rival is not exactly a merciful one when controlled by the AI, and there is not a tutorial available. It’s true the videogames for NES, particularly the japanese versions for Famicom, are known to have a really steep learning curve. If you really want to personally experience the infamous “Nintendo difficulty”, this videogame is a really good starting point.
It’s possible to play doubles compeitition, where two human videoplayers team up against the AI (good luck with that). Or competing between them in single matches. Finally, the videogame offer different courts, where the main difference are the colors, representing playing indoors or outdoors.
While there are several countries to choose from, the videoplayer can only choose it for the rival. I was not able to find a significant difference in the country selected for the rival, because the uniform is always the same. Also, it did not matter, I was always beaten in an ugly way.
The countries featured in the game are:
It’s amazing that I was not able to find another videogame of the time about badminton. At least in home consoles. Maybe the difficult to sell it outside Japan, given the low fanbase in other important markets, was the reason that no more games were developed about this sport.
The already high difficulty of the videogame, the non-availability outside Japan and the realtively low difusion of the sport, played against it. Recommended more for curiosity than to become part of a collection.
Console Icon taken from Retroarch.