Here are the best tennis games ever: a mix of arcade, simulation and management games.
Art imitates reality and the world of video games doesn’t stray too far from this concept. The most famous sports of the modern world are regularly reproduced in video game form, starting with the evergreen soccer, but also passing through basketball and baseball, not to mention American football. Although not at the same levels as the previous ones, we also find tennis, which since the beginning of the history of video games has inspired developers in various ways. Tennis games can be realistic or arcade, but all that matters is that the ball goes over the net and scores the point. So here are the best tennis games ever!
Top Spin 4
Let’s start with one of the most famous series in the history of tennis games: Top Spin. At the time there seemed to be little room for “other” tennis games, but the newcomer on the Xbox platform managed to surprise everyone with a more elaborate and realistic gameplay, licenses for all players and graphics of a higher level than seen up to that time. The series will prove to be generous in implementing new features and characteristics in the gameplay, think for example to the energy (stamina) of the players who lose physical form as the match goes on, or the support for 3D graphics and motion accessories in the last chapter for PlayStation 3. Top Spin is the title that has been able in the last generation to awaken our dormant passion for tennis games, has been able to reinvent a game that seemed to have little to say, managing to create a successful brand that will remain in the history of video games.
Top Spin 4 is the most recent chapter and is available on Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3.
Virtua Tennis 4
Impossible to talk about the best tennis games without mentioning one of the most beloved and played titles of all time. Yes, we are talking about SEGA’s Virtua Tennis, which for many years has inflamed arcades around the world, and that with the arrival of Dreamcast has entered all homes through the front door thanks to the wonderful conversions for the machine of “dreams”. Compared to Top Spin, Virtua Tennis has always maintained a more arcade setting, with characters that performed any kind of shot simply through the use of two buttons. This depth of gameplay, very easy to learn but hard to master at its best, made it a transversal game suitable for all types of players, from the youngest to the most experienced ones. And even though it didn’t have an extraordinary amount of options, in multiplayer it was practically eternal, so much so that it can still be found in many arcades all over the world. The videogame industry had never been so fascinated by tennis, and with it the general public, captivated by graphics that had never been seen before.
Virtua Tennis 4 is the most recent chapter for consoles and has been released on PC, PS Vita, PS3, Xbox 360.
Pong: a great classic
For the most “expert” players, everything started with Pong: even if in reality (in the idea of course) it was a ping pong game, to all intents and purposes it can be considered a distant ancestor of tennis games. The very simple graphics represent two players placed on the two sides of the field, divided by a central net and a ball that was exchanged from one side to the other. Pong was able to impose itself on the general public thanks to an arcade version and to costs that were considerably lower than in the past, representing an absolute starting point for the entire videogame market. Its peculiarity was represented by the technique with which the image was generated: not through pixels but with an alteration of the scan line of the kinescope with logical and analog components, hence its characteristic black and white graphics.
Pong can be played online (also in co-op) at ponggame.com.
Tennis for Two
Tennis for Two: the hardware was the game and the game was the hardware
If you think Pong is the first real tennis game (or ping pong, that’s the area), well, you’re wrong. In fact, before Atari’s work came Tennis for Two. In 1958, William Higinbotham devised a game to be freely displayed and tested at Brookhaven National Laboratory using a Donner Model 30 analog computer that was capable of simulating trajectories with wind resistance. The game was controlled by two specially created aluminum controllers. As you can see from the picture, the oscilloscope shows through simple lines a tennis court with a side view and a ball. With a knob you can give a direction to the ball and with a button you hit it to send it over the net. It is considered the first video game created for pure entertainment and not for academic research or commercial promotions.
Tennis for Two has been dismantled and the original version is no longer available. A copy (not identical) was created in 1997.
Tennis Elbow 2013
Let’s talk about a game very well known to the PC community but a little less mainstream than the previous ones: Tennis Elbow by Mana Games, a very small independent developer located in France, has a large group of fans who move on the border between the game and its extremely varied and articulated mods. Tennis Elbow (literally: tennis elbow) manages to immediately captivate thanks to its ultra-realistic gameplay that impeccably simulates not only the physics of the ball, but also all the various implications on the shot related to body posture and timing. The game adapts to virtually any PC thanks to requirements that are anything but pretentious: the graphical side, therefore, is pleasant but not impressive. The game has been released in various chapters of this marvelous tennis game, so we suggest you to download the last one and then try to install the main mods you can find wandering around the web that make it one of the best tennis games available.
Tennis Elbow 4 is due out in June 2021 on PC, in the meantime you can play Tennis Elbow 2013 on PC.
Wii Sports Tennis
Wii Sports Tennis: one of the public’s favorites
How not to mention the tennis game contained within Wii Sports for Nintendo Wii. A title that has enchanted a generation and made grandparents, parents, grandchildren, dogs and cats play. We can argue endlessly about the intrinsic quality of the game and the fact that probably other games (Super Tennis, Advantage Tennis, Grand Slam for example) have been for us “hardcore” players much more satisfying and fun. But we can’t ignore the fact that Wii Sports tennis has influenced the entire video game industry for at least a decade, sold tens of millions of consoles because of it, and made Nintendo better known than ever. The use of remote controls as real extensions of the body has been able to give the genre an innovation like we haven’t seen in a long time. Despite the fact that in recent times the desire for movement at all costs seems to have almost vanished into thin air, Wii Sports remains a milestone in the video game industry for importance, diffusion and transversality.
Wii Sports is available on Nintendo Wii.
Mario Power Tennis
Mario Power Tennis: certainly not simulative
The plumber from the Big N is best known for his platforming adventures, but over the years he’s taken plenty of breaks to relax. The kingdom of Mushrooms, after all, is not constantly in danger. Mario has dedicated himself to several sports but, speaking precisely of tennis games, one of the best is definitely Mario Power Tennis for GameCube. Let’s not talk about the Nintendo Wii version, which is plagued by a control system that could be improved. Unlike many other tennis games, Mario Power Tennis does not offer a realistic style of play and allows us to approach the field with unique characters. It is an absolutely fun game for all ages.
Mario Power Tennis is available on GameCube.
Stick Tennis: simple and accessible
If you are looking for mobile tennis games, one of our first recommendations is Stick Tennis. This is not a simulative title, but more of a quick gaming experience with simplified controls. The game relies mostly on timing and not on player positioning. Just swipe your finger to the right, left or down to perform various types of shots, while the player runs from one side of the court to the other automatically. The graphical style is very simple, but it’s adequate for the type of experience: above all, it’s very readable, the only priority for a title of this type.
Stick Tennis is available for free on iPhone and Android mobile.
Virtua Tennis Challenge
Virtua Tennis Challenge
If you want a mobile tennis game, but don’t want to give up a slightly more realistic graphic style, an excellent choice is Virtua Tennis Challenge. The famous saga has in fact arrived on smartphones and offers an arcade gameplay, but more structured than the aforementioned Stick Tennis. We’ll have to control our character with a virtual stick and perform various types of shots using dedicated virtual buttons. The challenge level is significant, but never exaggerated. There are also various types of courts and characters to choose from. It’s free, but you have to be prepared for a few too many advertisements.
Virtua Tennis Challenge is available on iPhone and Android mobile.
Tennis Club Story
Tennis Sport Club: mobile manager
Who said that the best tennis games are only action games? With Tennis Club Story you can also test yourself with a management game, developed by the well-known Kairosoft. In this mobile game we’ll have to manage our team of tennis players, complete mini-games, train athletes, organize activities for fans, sign agreements with sponsors and define the best tactics to win during a match, even changing in real time. The graphic style in pixel art is also well-made and offers an interface that is easy to use, even for those who are not familiar with management games.
Tennis Club Story is available for a fee on iPhone and Android mobile devices.