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Tennis - 3DS VC Review

Game Info

3DS Virtual Console | Nintendo | 1 Player | Out Now | $2.99 / £2.70
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2nd May 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

As Nintendo supporters prepare themselves for the upcoming launch of Mario Tennis Open, those jonesing for a tennis game on the 3DS may be quick to buy Tennis from the eShop's selection of Virtual Console games. After all, it's not like there's a lot to choose from -- something a quick search will confirm. Even if you're just looking for a new retro game to have fun with, Tennis isn't going to do much for you.

    Getting ready for a game is a bit of an exercise in itself, as there are aspects to Tennis that prevent anyone from just being able to keep a rally going. Using the Circle Pad or +Control Pad, you'll not only move your character in place, but also direct and add distance to your shots as you swing with the A or B Button. While the A Button is your default swing, your player's position on the court at the time you press the B Button will determine the kind of action that will take place. Lobs cannot be executed while you're at the front of the net, for example, but you are able to slam it onto the other side of the court more effectively than you would from the very back. On a related point, opportunities for smashes surface when a lob shot is in effect, but I found taking advantage of this was often tricky. It helps if you go by the sound the ball makes as it rises and falls so you can have a better idea of when's the best time to do an overhead swing.

    Reacting to the different shots involves moving into place and lining up your racket carefully, allowing for enough of a gap between your body and the racket so it doesn't end up hitting your chest instead. It's not an automatic thing that you can just count on like in modern-day tennis games, which gets to the basics and the realism of what makes tennis such a precision-focused sport. The game does take into consideration the height at which you hit the ball, so a last-minute save probably won't get the ball too high off the ground unless you apply some distance to it.

Unfortunately, while the game's pace varies depending on the level you're on, the players move as though they were being slowed down by their choice of clothing. Movement isn't fluid; in fact, it's a bit stiff. As an example of the kinds of circumstances you're working with, it takes about three seconds to go from one end of the court (width-wise) to the other, and with the ball moving at the speed it does, the computer opponents are quick to exploit any lack of preparedness on your part. Adding to all this is the fact that players seem to have small hands with a limited reach, unable to dive for the ball or stretch their arm an inch more to actually reach the ball.

    Tennis keeps thing very basic not only in gameplay standards, but also when it comes to presentation. The court is sectioned-off using simple, slightly jagged lines while the crowds on either side of the arena don't do much to make the environment feel like a real stadium. The audience stays put throughout with no reactions from them at any time -- audible or otherwise. A basic sound effect is used to make it sound like people are cheering, but this sounds more like a rough gust of wind. The music heard during gameplay is somewhat repetitive, made worse by the fact that you need to play for these long periods of time. Mario oversees what takes place on the court in his high chair, but he isn't very good at his job. He only ever speaks up during faults and outs, but leaves the computer to indicate when deuces are in effect. Guess he later realized he was better suited as a player than a referee.

    Each time you set up a new match, you'll be signing up for a series of best-of-three sets that are called after six matches. What this amounts to is sessions lasting roughly 15 minutes of sending the ball back and forth. Even just a single set has a problem of boring you if the CPU keeps coming up short to the same tactics, or if the match doesn't really seem to be going anywhere. To me, the whole approach to forcing players to partake in sessions of this length without any sort of customization is a bit much, but I suppose Nintendo probably felt they had no choice since the game didn't have much else going for it in terms of longevity. Because you have the ability to suspend play at any time, you can actually make the gameplay experience a tad easier to wade through, though the fun factor does decrease the further you get into it.

gives you four different levels to work with, each giving you a more difficult rival to face. Even the Level 1 opponent can be a bit challenging, which isn't something to be embarrassed about if you've had exposure to other tennis games that, for all intents and purposes, have simplified follow-throughs and the like. The AI can be challenging insomuch as the game's controls are what prove to be a bit of a patience game. Getting accustomed to the stiff and more precise way of playing can take some time, and in that time you have to deal with some pretty dull surroundings and gameplay that don't exactly spur you on in your desire to get used to everything. Although I was able to pull the same trick several times in a row, the AI typically isn't that predictable. And jumping into Level 4, the pace increases to a point where the game can hold your attention more than in its less stressful state. That doesn't suddenly make it a worthwhile endeavour, however.

    I am not suggesting that this game is a total turn-off. In fact, to be honest, I was kind of surprised I had fun with the game at all given the barebones nature of it all. Still, there's no denying the eventual feeling that comes over players that Tennis, as an experience, stagnates and ultimately pushes players towards other games. Although you may find the game kind of fun for the first couple minutes, before long you'll be able to dissuade yourself from playing it anymore.

    Hardcore fans of the sport have most assuredly played countless digital translations on the sport, from realistic to completely off the wall. Regardless of your attachment to the sport, reasons for wanting to pick up Tennis over any Virtual Console game currently available are very, very few. A few pats on the back aren't enough to motivate you to stick around or have that desire to keep the repetition going. Plus, with the multiplayer component disabled, your ability to justify continued play sessions won't go on for very long. In short, Tennis isn't worth picking up. The game's not terrible, but there are much better classics to spend your money on that will leave you feeling more satisfied with your purchase than this ever will.

13/30 - Very Poor

Gameplay 5/10 - Realistic in some ways but still feels stiff, position will determine the shot type, exercise in itself, games go on for long periods of time
Presentation 5/10 - Really basic and kind of dull, sound effects are simple but can be useful during lobs, repetitive music, inconsistency with calls
Enjoyment 2/5 - Not very entertaining, higher levels can be kind of fun for the anxious circumstances created, quickly feel like moving onto something else
Extra Content 1/5 - Opponents on multiple levels, multiplayer mode is inaccessible, no other forms of customization, not really worth spending money on

Equivalent to a score of 43% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

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