Tennis games that feel correct

I was in a bit of a nostalgic mood a few nights ago and booted up Mario Tennis: Power Tour on my mister. good lord that game is easy!! still, it was a fun part of my childhood and got me thinking about tennis games in general.

so now I've been flipping through whatever I've got in my library to try and find something that feels correct, as a person who spent a large chunk of their youth playing this strange and addicting sport. here's what I found so far:

_Super Tennis_: I think brandon or frank mentioned this on the podcast and while I do like it, I think it's too difficult to get the timing right. it feels like the kind of game that would be really rewarding to learn over time, but once you do you'd be so much better than any of your friends and none of them would want to play

_Super Final Match Tennis_: really love the pixel art in this game, and all the little animations they put into it, like your character's reaction to a passing shot or all the ball-boy/girl stuff. I thought it was pretty jarring that a bunch of characters are available but no matter what you choose the sprites don't seem to reflect your choice. the movement, timing, and shot options feel really good though, and nothing feels unfair. the serve is hard to time properly but I guess they were going for realism

_Final Match Tennis_: this is by far my favourite I've found so far. the timing of the groundstrokes and volleys feels intuitive and easy enough for new players, but also really deep. games also go by really fast, with no extra animations and just some simple charming buzzer sounds for when you make an error. it makes playing a 3-set match much less daunting! there is a wide selection of actual tennis players with different stats that seem to make a huge difference. it feels like this game should have a big competitive scene but all I've found so far is a janky-looking german fansite that mentions a local tournament that was played in 2012.

recommend me some other tennis games!! I would love for there to be something that feels as good as Final Match Tennis with a bit more visual charm and flair, some kind of weirdly dialed-in mascot game, but I haven't yet found it. is there a good _Prince of Tennis_ game??

It‘s been a while but Virtua Tennis on Dreamcast was a pretty great tennis game. I would assume the sequels followed suit. I have always been partial to Wii Sports Tennis even though its not that realistic. I’ll also mention Rockstars Table Tennis on 360 - not full tennis but a great version of the ole ping-pong.

Last year we spent a few weeks getting decent at Virtua Tennis with my partner. It was my first time trying out a Tennis game since Wii Sports and I loved it. Also, it has some perfect UI design and the cover art has that wonderful use of lime gree, purple and orange that just brings me back immediately to an early 2000s summer. I saw that they have one of the arcade cabinets a few blocks away from our apartment, so I may check that out soon.

@“orok”#p111184 oh heck yeah, as a once-mediocre junior tennis player myself, I‘ve always wanted a truly simulatory tennis video game but mostly disappointed in the execution of the games out there. I don’t think anything actually stacks up to the kind of strategy, pacing, and nuance you get from actual tennis. Until a AAA VR game comes out I don‘t think any tennis game is going to really do it justice. I’ve played that “Table Tennis VR” and it's getting there, but it needs some feedback when you hit the ball and some space to run around.

Gameboy Tennis is my nostalgic game that I blindly loved even though it's probably objectively terrible bargain-bin quality. But after Pokemon came out I got a link cable and one of my neighbors happened to have this game so we would occasionally play together. I can't imagine we played more than 1-2 hours cumulatively though. The smaller court here feels better to me than any NES or SNES tennis game on the big screen but it's probably just because it's what I grew up with.

Oh hey is that Jump Man?

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In terms of real-deal simulation tennis games, I think its gotta be Top Spin 4 on the Playstation 3, right? On the court it's great. It plays smooth and the physics feel right. It was also back when theycould license all the best tennis players and grand slam tournaments in the game without having to rely on user-created content. One time I smoked a little "medicine" and I thought _I was actually playing_ in the French open for the entire tournament.

My dream tennis game, much like Top Spin 4, has a career mode where you can micromanage the player even on off days. It's not enough to just play the tennis Grand Slam, I like to have to manage my character's jet lag from a long flight. Being a tennis player is not just about your performance on the court, it's also about signing brand deals with Rolex and doing stilted TV interviews and jet-setting to a party in Monte Carlo with the global elite. The life of an elite tennis player is a legitimately weird existence and I love when there's life-sim elements to a tennis game.

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@“Tradegood”#p111187

I love this idea of an overly immersive and micromanaged athlete career simulation game, I always wanted a more in-depth take on the career mode ofthe Rock Band games and I think I would apply perfectly to tennis, something that lets me make dumb decisions that will truncate my matches for a better storyline.

@“safetypads”#p111189 Absolutely. Straight tennis is fine but its always fun to have something to break up the gameplay loop, and optional time management or minigames is a nice addition. It might only result in some small stat changes or your “Energy Bar” going down but it does make for a better storyline!

i fucked very hard with Everybody's Tennis back in the day. what a game

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@“orok”#p111184 something that feels as good as Final Match Tennis

This won’t happen.

If I remember correctly, the (previously?) lone developer of the [Tennis Elbow](https://store.steampowered.com/app/760640/Tennis_Elbow_4/) series started developing video games specifically because he was a huge fan of FMT and could not find any contemporary tennis game scratching that specific realistic itch.

Among more mainstream releases, I think Top Spin 4 (for a more realistic bent) and Virtua Tennis 2 (for a more arcadey bent) are the usual recommendations among tennis fans.

You’ll find many elite FMT players spread across the games industry, by the way. [Nicolas Doucet of Astrobot fame](https://youtu.be/ZWf9vNi0ptc) is pretty strong at the game, for instance.

Virtua Tennis 2 aka Tennis 2k2 aka Sega Sports Tennis aka Power Smash 2 aka Virtua Tennis World Tour(as an expanded port) has the most names of maybe any game and was also a complete revelation to me months ago. I grew up playing a lot of Virtua Tennis and just never put it together that 2k2 was the sequel to it.

I will split some of the difference and say that for me it is Mario Tennis GBC. I can't think of as simple a game that gets as teeth grindingly tense.

https://youtu.be/aKOonD8nUpU

There is a dude in Virtua Tennis you can pick that has “various shots” and my friends have been talking about this for 20 years.

https://youtu.be/Vs0XUKHeYpc

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Still waiting on that Infinite Jest RPG adaptation from Camelot…

Mario Tennis Aces on switch feels great when you play on simple mode (no frills tennis). fun regular too.

I have never played a 2d tennis game i liked and it is my favorite sport.

if you have PSVR and a big room and the move controller with a joystick on it you can play Dream Match Tennis VR and it is actually a LOT of fun.

i remember playing a bit of the hot shots tennis demo on my PSP back in the day, i had fun so i would consider it a good tennis game

https://youtu.be/AqYVo0Qqnig

Apparently Clap Hanz golf on iOS is real good. Not surprising given their history.

It's got some good character names.

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@“onefiftythree”#p111443 Mario Tennis Aces on switch feels great when you play on simple mode (no frills tennis). fun regular too.

Yeah, I liked Mario Tennis Aces too, but I think the special moves make it feel more like a fighting game than a tennis game. They're way too powerful, so your chance of winning online depends almost entirely on how fast you can build up that special meter. It was fun at first but the novelty went away quickly for me. I haven't played it in a few years but maybe I need to go back to play the simple tennis some more.

Dream Match Tennis VR sounds cool, but how does it actually work with such limited space? Do you have to lunge after stuff like you're playing Squash? The idea of playing a VR tennis match in the living room is really compelling to me even though the Switch Sports tennis style of game is not at all. Does it feel different?

@"hellomrkearns"#p111483 That art style is so timeless, I feel like it's wasted on iOS! They should bring it to consoles!

@“Tradegood”#p111513 there‘s a limited amount of lunging, but most of the movement is done with what I have just learned is called the ’nav‘ controller. like a lot of VR it’s weird at first but once you get the hang of it, surprisingly scratches the tennis itch fairly well. I haven't played Switch Sports but DMT (heh) aims for a fairly realistic feel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArJk8iip3JM

@“onefiftythree”#p111515 Very interesting! My only complaint is it looks like he‘s at the baseline the whole time in that video! I’m aggressive about volleying in both irl and digital tennis haha, Most CPUs don't know what to do when you punch it over the net.

It sounds like movement does feel at least somewhat natural even if its teleportation?

For any fans of Tennis and Hyper Gun Sport-style games definitely check out Paddle Mania on the SNK 40th anniversary collection! It is a very fun and silly game with a pretty unique control scheme. It‘s almost more like racquetball or hockey than tennis, and you ricochet the ball off of the walls to try to get into your opponents goal. A big part of the game involves hitting your opponent in the face to knock them down, so you can swing the ball past them. It’s challenging too!

You also don't just play tennis stars, you take on sumo wrestlers, surfers, and even....

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