Well, it’s finals weekend at the Australian Open. We’re in for two dream matches with Serena Williams taking on Venus Williams and Roger Federer playing Rafael Nadal. Every time the Australia Open is on, I literally become addicted with tennis games again. Due to the fact that there’s still no tennis games available on PS4/Xbox One, I’ve decided to round up the best ones on older platforms.
VIRTUA TENNIS 4 WORLD TOUR
(PlayStation VITA – 2012)
Crazily enough, I actually paid a lot of money to import my Vita from Japan just to play this game on launch. It was a stunning looking game and still one of the best looking portable games to date. The team always give me crap as I’m still always playing 5 years later. There’s still an incredibly healthy online community and you can find a match quicker than most recent FPS games. I reckon I’ve honestly sunk 1000 hours+ into the game, making it my most played game of all time. There’s always been something addictive about the arcade style of gameplay in the Virtual Tennis series, and in portable form, it’s ten-fold.
(Gameboy – 1984)
Released on the GameBoy in 1984, Tennis was probably the first mainstream tennis game and probably the most difficult too. Interestingly, Mario was the referee for the match which lead to the eventual Mario Tennis series that we’ll cover extensively in this list. This was the first Virtual Console game that I got on my 3DS and was absolutely addicted for weeks. There’s five difficulty levels which pretty much range from hard to harrrrrrd. It was incredible simple with essentially one shot type, but you had to time your movement and shots perfectly as there was no power up. Also, it has the most iconic soundtrack in tennis video game history.
(Gameboy Colour – 2001)
Although it released just after Mario Tennis 64, Mario Tennis on the GameBoy Colour is incredibly different to predecessor. I never played it on the original Gameboy Colour, but it’s been a godsend on long flights on the 3DS VC. The campaign mode actually sees you taking charge of a regular person and it’s probably the deepest tennis game to date. You play through really long matches (Best of 3 sets / 6 games) in order to advance through the ranks and craft your player. The play style is very similar to that of the original Mario Tennis in the sense that your timing needs to be perfect, but you’ve now got a slice and can power up.
TOP SPIN 4
(PS3/360 – 2011)
Probably the only simulation based tennis game on this list, Top Spin 4 was a great tennis game for an entirely different reason. It used things like advanced shot timing as well as stamina to replicate tennis games a little bit more closely. That’s the hard thing about creating a good tennis game. It needs to remain fun, whilst still staying true to the original game somewhat. Top Spin 4 managed to do this better than any other tennis game in my opinion. Actually having to plan your shots and movement as well as manage your stamina to work out whether you should bother running for the ball in a 40-0 situation or not, took the tennis genre to another series. I’m really hopeful that 2K will pick this back up at some point as Top Spin 4 was definitely the best in the series.
MARIO TENNIS 64
(Nintendo 64 – 2000)
I feel like I have to include it just because it was probably the first tennis game I played on its original console. I spent so many years playing Mario Tennis 64 on my original Nintendo 64, then subsequently on emulators and such throughout the high-school years. As a tennis game, it still stands up tremendously as one of the most honest tennis games. It was one of the first games to implement a number of different advanced shot types including the drop shot and the lob. Just a month or so ago, I got a Nintendo 64 again and have been playing it non-stop. If it wasn’t for the graphics, and the average quality of Nintendo 64 on LED displays, I’d be playing it even more. I really want Nintendo to go back and create something more simple as these games stand up way better than any of the Mario Tennis games released recently.
ROCKSTAR’S TABLE TENNIS
(Xbox 360 – 2006)
Yes, I know, it’s technically not a tennis game. Rockstar’s Table Tennis needs to be recognised wherever possible. It was a drastically bold move for Rockstar at the time and it’s probably a better game than any on this list. It faithfully recreated table tennis and bought a depth to it that can only be replicated on the professional tour. It was equally fun for those who wanted to pick up and play or those who wanted to get serious and make it all the way through the campaign mode.