Tennis (NES)

Game Review

Tennis Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Stephen Kelly

Net-net, a loss

Tennis — the NES game, not the actual sport — hails from an age when the most rudimentary of virtual simulations could be entertaining and notable simply by existing, perhaps causing a passing family member to comment on how it looks just like the real thing. Although a genuine novelty in the 80s, this dull-as-toast recreation of tennis has gone stale, hardly able to stave off boredom long enough for a good rally.

As no-frills as its name, Tennis immediately drops you into a menu screen framed by the signature black background of Nintendo's early titles. Your two options consist of singles or — for a bit of multiplayer cooperation — doubles, both of which take place on a flat court with an overhead perspective. Speaking of perspective, that can take a bit of getting used to: the little blip of a ball expands and shrinks as it sails back and forth over the net, doing its best to trick your eyes into seeing depth and distance.

Positioning your player is a tricky business, and unlike in the real world isn't at all intuitive. Once you manage to get lined up, you can either bat the ball back with a standard shot or lob it high into the air, but control over trajectory is limited at best. Serving is no easier to grasp, but like most of the gameplay mechanics, acceptable after a fair amount of fiddling.

When the ball is bandied back and forth without a stumble, a subdued sense of fun begins to creep onto the court; at higher speeds, it can almost turn to excitement. If this were the only tennis game available on our home planet — which, at the time of release, it might as well have been — it would have something going for it, but that's not at all the current situation. There are countless alternatives of higher quality for simulation and arcade tastes alike, not to mention plenty of quality action games on the NES that blow it out of the water. In fact, you could purchase the original Animal Crossing and find this very game playable inside, along with about fifteen fellow NES titles to keep it company.

Tennis looks and sounds like it plays: safe, boring, and generally okay. The bare necessities of sound design keep the events grounded, interspersed with occasional musical jingles. Players are animated with commendable accuracy considering the technical restraints, and the courts are kept sparse so as to avoid confusing clutter. The only genuine dose of character in this department is a cameo by Mario posing as referee, long before he took tennis racket in hand himself.


Tennis is playable, but considering that stands as one of its primary advantages, it's a backhanded compliment. Its faults lie in oversimplicity and dodgy controls, the latter of which is a crucial point to any competitive game, serving as a poor example to a future of superior successors. Those with a true love of the sport should look elsewhere, and even those hoping for nostalgia to put a positive spin on things should think twice. Despite a decent foundation, Tennis is no smash hit.

From the web

Game Trailer

Subscribe to Nintendo Life on YouTube

User Comments (22)



SkywardCrowbar said:

@Dambuster Are you a bot? Every time I see you comment "Watch the profanity please — TBD: I don't even see any profanity.

Anyway, both this and Golf are completely outdated. Nintendo should've had a sale where if you get one of them, you get the other half off.



Nintenjoe64 said:

Why even bother releasing this, Nintendo? We should be getting Dreamcast Virtua Tennis on VC or Super Tennis at the very least. The release schedule of the VC is just embarrassing. The old games like these should be cheaper for starters but they should never be the headline release of any week on the VC.

I think it's time we took to the Miiverse and trolled every bad VC release.



Samurai_Goroh said:

This and Golf are really unnecessary additions to the VC, no mater how nostalgic you get. Get Super Tennis on VC at least, Nintendo. Or N64's Mario Tennis. We need N64 asap.



manpretty said:

I remember going into a department store and getting to play this when I was 10 years old. I think that's all I need.



tedko said:

Agree with other comments. with so many great games that could be released on vc why this? and the prices are ridiculous. these kind of games should cost a dollar. a few NES games like Mario Bros. 3 and the original Legend of Zelda are decent value for 5$ but the vast majority not. SNES games should be 5$ and most NES games should be 3$ or less



ricklongo said:

I used to play the hell of this game with my brother back in the day. But yeah, I figured it wouldn't age so well.



sleepinglion said:

Nintendo has CLEARLY been listening to its fanbase with the titles it chooses for the Virtual Console service...



Samurai_Goroh said:

@sleepinglion They can be quite daft. Like on Wii we got the awful NES Soccer instead of everyone's favourite Nintendo World Cup.
I remember when Iwata introduced Virtual Console back in 2005. "There won't be every game available for each system. A selection of the best will be made." Just not true.



mr570 said:

I have to disagree with the majority on this one. This game is surprisingly fun for me. The controls are simple, but with practice you can definitely implement strategy in your play style. Are there better Tennis games out there? Totally, but this game is a classic from a simpler time and is quite fun after you get the hang of it and learn to smash.



HaNks said:

enough with the slow trickle of NES games, at this point wii U VC is just embarrassing.



KnightRider666 said:

I too, have great memories of playing this game when I was younger. I will buy this if it comes to the 3DS VC.



unrandomsam said:

Only way I would buy any of these really old NES games is if I could have a selection for say £9.99 (At least all the normal ones in the Gamecube Animal Crossing that I have).



Beau_Skunk said:

While a bit lacking in content, I thought this one wasn't so bad. A few things you have to get used to, but at least the game feels a bit more advanced then "Pong."

Also, why does this game get a 4, while NES "Baseball" gets a 6? This one you feel more in control of your character to me.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...