When Wii Sports helped to launch Nintendo Wii back in 2006, the Tennis mode was lauded as one of the reasons to own the console and an instant hit with gamers of any age or skill level. Its simple yet addictive gameplay was easy to pick up on and follow, and on top of that it shipped with four other excellent sports to try out. Now, 12 years later, a new title is hoping to replicate that simplicity and feel.
Tennis, as it’s simply called, arrives on Nintendo Switch to very, very little fanfare. But in spite of that, does the title offer up a solid back and forth encounter? Unfortunately not. Tennis is one of the most barebones experiences we’ve ever engaged with.
The core game centres around three modes: Rally Challenge, Tournament, and Quick Play. Rally Challenge is a test of endurance as you trade the ball from side to side with the CPU, Tournament pits you against three opponents in your quest for first place, and Quick Play is self-explanatory. Much of your time with the game will be spent within these three modes, and their depth goes as deep as a puddle. Rally Challenge will speed things up a little as you successfully trade the ball and the players you compete against in Tournament increase in difficulty ever so slightly, but besides these two modifiers, your very first match will play out exactly the same as your last does.
Tennis is so utterly devoid of content that we weren’t sure if the game had booted up correctly when the main menu first greeted us. The three modes are incredibly basic, their depth is pretty much non-existent, and you’re going to tire of them all too quickly. There’s maybe an hour or two of content present, and it’s almost insulting.
This sparseness also carries over to the characters you can choose from, with there being eight in total. They all come with their own set of stats, separated into the categories of power, spin, movement, and control, but in-game they have a minimal effect. What is so egregious about them though is their catchphrases, which they feel the need to say after every single hit of the ball. Take Chris for example, he’ll shout, “Yeah!” or, “Take that” every time he manages to return the green sphere, and it makes the simple act of just playing the game even more of a chore thanks to it becoming excruciating to listen to just two minutes in.
Six different courts accompany the sparse character cast, and these locations don’t fare much better. You’ve got the typical basic court that wouldn’t look out of place down your local park, the ever present grass court that tries to resemble Wimbledon, and a smattering of other courts that you’d find at other Grand Slam tournaments. Then there’s the court that’s situated in a field surrounded by a lake, which is probably the most imaginative Tennis gets.
Another factor that makes Tennis feel so basic is the fact that you’ll never directly control your chosen character, the game does it all for you. All this leaves you to do is to take the shots themselves, and this is where the tiniest amount of complexity can be found.
When using the Joy-Cons, you can either twist or flick the controllers to vary your shots. Tilting them will slice your shot, flicking them to the left or right will place some top spin on the ball, and a drop shot can be achieved by pointing the Joy-Con downwards. Executing these shots will build up a meter, which when full, allows you to unleash a super shot which pretty much guarantees you the next set of points. While these are probably the flashiest part of the game, they actually make matches even easier than they already are due to how often you can use them.
Everything you do in the game earns you TP, but they don’t actually seem to feed into anything. There’s an achievement section on the main menu that lists your accomplishments within the game and bonuses, but they just seem to be there for the sake of it. Tennis Points feel like they should be there for unlockables, but with there not actually being any, the whole system is entirely redundant.
Tennis is so lacklustre in every single department that we’re honestly baffled this managed to get a full release. The modes on offer are incredibly basic, the characters are dire, and the lack of any sort of progression through the game means there’s absolutely nothing to keep you going. The Joy-Con controls are a very small highlight, but Tennis is one we’ll want to forget in a hurry.