Thursday 10 December 2015

Tennis (Game Boy review)

Developer: Nintendo R&D#1
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1989

Tennis is an updated version of the NES launch title of the same name (1985). 

It supports 1-2 players (via a Link Cable) and four skill levels are available which affect the speed and power of your opponent. Our old friend Mario even makes an appearance as the umpire! The controls are solid and well-thought out to provide a surprising amount of depth considering the lack of buttons. Your main shots are a Forehand, Backhand and Lob but you can use Up or Down on the d-pad to add Top Spin or Slice. Placing your shots around the court is easy and the learning curve is very low for newcomers. The only slight niggle about the controls is that your character moves a bit too slowly so it's almost impossible to catch up to Lobs and sharply-angled Top Spins from your opponent in higher difficulties. The computer puts up a good fight throughout and the key to succeeding is precise net play; once you've mastered this you can pretty much use it to spam each match an inordinate amount. The main issue with the game is that it has very few modes and the only offerings are either a 1-player singles match or a 2-player competitive match. A simple Tournament mode would have greatly helped with replayability as once you've played a match there's little to keep you entertained. There's also no option to choose how many sets you prefer meaning you're stuck with best of three sets in every match; this defeats the purpose of the handheld with its pick-up-and-play, bite-sized chunks of gaming. The graphics aren't anything special but the colours look brilliant on the Super Game Boy. There's only a couple of music tracks but they're extremely catchy and of high quality.

Tennis is a nice recreation of the sport with good controls and a decent shot selection. It's severely letdown by a lack of options though and as a result it's the sort of title you'll likely return to occasionally for one brief go before setting it aside for deeper gameplay experiences.

Random trivia: This Game Boy version was re-released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2011.

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