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Difficult Video Game Victories #1: Deca Sports 2 Tennis: Legend Cup

Lynda Monica


 I was going to write this up as a forum post, but it became so long that I thought I'd turn it into a blog post. Today I completed the Deca Sports 2 tennis tournament on legend difficulty. That doesn't sound significant by itself, so allow me to dive into everything that made this one of the hardest things I've ever completed in any video game.


To start out, I'll give a run down of the game's functions.

  • The player character is moved around the court automatically, however the A and B buttons allow you to move toward and away from the net respectively.
  • When a ball is lobbed by an opponent, the ball will flash red on its descent. Swinging the Wii Remote downwards at this moment sometimes will result in a smash.
  • To perform a lob yourself, aim the Wii remote downwards, and gently swing upward. The motion for this is slow and unreliable, but is something you need to risk doing if you plan to win.
  • Small characters are speedy on the court and play well at net, but have poor ball control. Medium sized characters have average speed and average ball control, making them completely worthless decent all around. Large sized characters play very poorly at net and are slow runners, but have excellent ball control.
  • To swing your racquet, swing the Wii remote left or right. The trajectory of the ball depends on the timing of your swing. Diving for the ball is performed by swinging the Wii remote with proper player positioning.

The most important aspect of the game is the one that is not explained to you in any way. "The trajectory of the ball depends on the timing of your swing." While you can fudge your way through the first two cups without fully understanding it, it REALLY helps for the third cup; and is necessary in order to beat the legend cup.

The game only mentions that the timing of your swing controls the direction of the ball, but it also depends on which way your character is facing. Let's say you're on the left side of the court, and your opponent sends the ball to you from the right. In this situation your character will be facing right, and you're planning to send the ball to the left away from your opponent.

In order to accomplish this, you have to swing the Wii remote long before the ball is next to your character. This creates a confusing disconnect between the motion and the action on screen. While jarring initially, it makes more sense when you consider how swinging works in Mario Tennis. Swinging early in Mario Tennis locks your character in place, and starts charging power for your swing. Swinging early in Deca Sports 2 works the same way where your character locks in place, but the game is instead calculating what direction the ball should go.

Now let's take a similar situation where you're facing right on the left side of the court, but the opponent is on the left side and sending the ball directly towards you. In order to send the ball toward the right, you would want to swing the remote as late as possible. These shots are simpler to understand, but don't tend to send the ball as far in the direction you're aiming for. However if you swing too late, it's still pretty easy to send the ball out of bounds.

At this point I want to explain how tournaments work.

There are ten sports in the game, and a tournament for each one. There are three difficulties by default, and once you've beaten all three you unlock that sport's legend tournament. Every tournament in the game consists of three matches, however you don't need to beat all three consecutively. You can quit out of a match if you're doing poorly, which creates a quicksave that allows you to start over from your last match. This is an intentional exploit the original Deca Sports encourages you to take advantage of, and you're going to need to do so if you want to beat legend tournaments.

If you haven't figured it out by now, the controls are only one of the major hurdles towards beating tennis on legend. The biggest hurdle is that the A.I is extremely good, and EXTREMELY hard to beat. Each match of tennis is defaulted to six games, which is a LOT of points you have to score against an A.I that's nearly flawless. I had discovered that large characters were really good to use on legend, as their wide control of the ball was one of the only things that could trip up the A.I.

The strategy with large characters on legend is to make the A.I run around as much as possible by hitting the ball as far as possible. There's still a lot of improvising that needs to be done all the time, but this is the overall goal for every point in the game. This can only really be achieved by pulling off precise wide shots multiple times in a row with an unreliable controller with invisible directional feedback.

As you can probably guess, pulling that off consistently for six games of tennis simply wasn't happening, and I needed some sort of additional edge on the A.I. What I eventually discovered is that by moving most of, but not all of the way to the edge of the court before serving with a large character, I could often hit the ball so hard and so far that the A.I would struggle to return the ball without sending it out of bounds. While it was by no means fool proof and often failed, I was able to get a large amount of free points that would have otherwise been extremely hard fought for. It got to the point where I could pretty reliably win a game if I was serving, so I only had to win a single game while the A.I was serving in order to pull ahead.

This worked extremely well in the second match of the tournament, but worked less and less during the final one. In the end the final match went a full twelve games, with me winning 7-5 during a deuce. It would have gone to a tie breaker had I not won that game, which I would have assuredly lost seeing as how I never once won a tie-breaker throughout the four tournaments.

In that moment on the congratulations screen I realized I was drenched in sweat as if I had just won a real tennis tournament. As the victory music played I just sat there stunned and couldn't believe I had won. This took me about a week to pull off, and while it was really difficult and often crushingly frustrating, I don't think I've ever been more proud to have stuck with a video game and finished it. It truly means nothing in the grand scheme of life, but as far as I'm concerned, I truly have done something legendary.

~Lynda Monica Watson

Edited by Lynda Monica

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