Tuesday 11 July 2017

Tennis (NES review)

Developer: Nintendo R&D1, Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1985

Tennis is a sports game that was one of 18 launch titles in Europe and North America.

It features five skill levels and allows you to play either singles or doubles matches in a best of three sets. The shot selection includes a smash, volley and lob, as well as forehand and backhand shots. Unfortunately, the game is barebones in terms of content, as you have no control over set length or surface. Likewise, you can't play against another human opponent; singles is purely against the CPU, while doubles only allows you to play alongside another human. Things don't improve on the court either; for example, when a ball is approaching, your player constantly switches between the forehand and backhand position, which makes it difficult to line up correctly prior to a swing. This affects the action as you'll often miss or end up with the ball hitting your player! Placing shots is tough too, as the timing of your swing dictates where the ball will travel; it's awkward to become accustomed to, especially if you're used to holding a direction on the controller. Due to how little control you have over shot location it does feel more like a glorified version of Pong (1972, Arcades) rather than a Tennis simulation. In the higher difficulties it's impossible to win a point using the long game; this forces you to switch to the short volley game, but this area is lacking too, as most of the time your player will either swing at thin air, or take a ball in the face! Serving is the only part that's well implemented, and I like how there's a secret fast serve which rewards skilful play by achieving perfect timing. My favourite part of the game is the strangely aggressive CPU player who frequently charges the net with his racket cocked!
Tennis is an extremely basic sports game that hasn't aged well, and the exclusion of a multiplayer VS mode is unforgiveable. Even if you focus on what's here the lack of options makes for some mundane matches, and you're much better off sticking to Jimmy Connors Tennis (1993, NES) instead.

Random trivia: This game was a playable extra in Animal Crossing (2002, GameCube).

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