Game, set, match – retro tennis games

The Wimbledon tennis championship is here once again and maybe, just maybe, a Brit will win the mens finals today. 75 years is a long time to wait! If not then there’s always next year, or the year after, or indeed the year after….and maybe a few more after that?

So to get into the spirit, and to accompany a rather large tub of strawberries collected from the garden, I’ve been at the geek desk this weekend waving about my pixel racket on some of my favourite tennis simulators of yesteryear.

International 3D Tennis – Commodore 64.

I nearly passed this one over whilst browsing at the local software store – those primitive vector graphics and simple two tone colour scheme didn’t look too hot when viewing static screenshots on the back of the box (unlike the tantalisingly beautiful Amiga version).


International 3D Tennis had been awarding a lofty score of 94% when reviewed in that month in Zzap 64 magazine (June 1990) – Praised for its unique graphics, control mechanics, I decided to go for it as they’d rarely let me down. They didn’t, I wasn’t disappointed, it’s a cracking game and more of a thinking mans game than all out arcade action.

Unlike most tennis games, you do not control the movement of the your player. Instead the CPU looks after all that running around giving you full joystick control over the type of shot you wish to play. It takes a little getting used to but it works really well. My only criticism is that, quite often you wish the game would speed up a little.

Presentation in the game though was outstanding, it’s TV styling was unlike anything before on the c64. Back in the days before multiview and freeform 3D views…or EA Sports, this was cutting edge stuff even though it does look a bit comically basic these days.

Tennis – Nintendo Gameboy.

Its hard to put down Tennis on the Gameboy (or the original NES release for that matter) and is one of three GB carts I regularly pop in the slot for a quick go. This is what the Gameboy excels in, simple pick up and play, fun addictive gameplay….and a hint of Mario.


…and just when though Gameboy Tennis couldn’t get any better, I was lucky enough to borrow my friends Nintendo Virtual Boy with Flash Boy cartridge enabling me to sample the quite literally ‘in your face’ 3D version of Tennis.

Superb console, superb game, not so superb headache after playing or too long 🙂



Great Courts 2 – Commodore Amiga.

Being the last week of June/first week in July, Wimbledon, for myself, is also synonymous with something else far less unpleasant. It’s usually this time of year that I suffer with Hayfever and although these days it’s quite mild lasting only a few weeks, as a kid it would go on for months. Its a good job really as i’m green fingered fellow that spends an awful lot of time in the garden! My older brother suffers too and after purchasing his first house he created a games room that was complete with filtered air conditioning, ice dispenser,mini bar, copious amounts of snacks and a selection of, then current gaming systems including his beloved Amiga.

During high pollen count summer weekends this was refuge and we’d hole up there all afternoon in that cool, sneeze free den and play all manner of 2-up Amiga games….and one in particular, Great Courts 2 springs to mind when Wimbledon fever sweeps the nation.

Of all the retro tennis games to play with a buddy, then this is the one to go for. Firstly, it looks and moves great,has a good selection of court surfaces and has control interface that easy to pickup and intuitive enough to reward players who practise. Best of all the two player mode allows you to team up with a buddy and compete on the same side again CPU controlled opponents.


Virtual Tennis – Sega Dreamcast

At first I didn’t like it. Sure it looks great but I think I preferred the old 8/16 bit style and didn’t really give it that much attention the first time around. That changed when I brought VGA box for my Dreamcast and,needing a break from Schmups, I thought I’d try it again.


Woo, glad i did, it’s a great game of tennis with enough fun mini games to keep it fresh and help improve your game. Despite being an old game, many of the actual tennis players are still playing today allowing recreate some of what you see on the tv today.

Super Tennis – Nintendo SNES

An early release game that showed off the new consoles mode 7 graphic abilities to great effect. Having all those extra buttons on the SNES gamepad including those rather useful shoulder buttons for diving towards the ball made for a great tennis game.

Options galore in this game and probably the most fun, single or 2-up than any of the above.


Have also been enjoying Match Point on the ZX Spectrum and, although not strictly tennis, involve some sort of rackets and ball – Ping Pong and digital speech-tastic Jonah Barringtons Squash.

Finally, here’s something a bit newer which i’ll be dipping in and out of during today’s finals.

Stick Tennis (free) Apple iPad

Like International 3D tennis, the CPU handles your players movement, allowing you to concentrate on your shots speed and angle which is played by swiping the touch screen.


Right, feet up, TV on, Strawberries at the ready, let the game begin.



5 responses to “Game, set, match – retro tennis games

  1. Sure is. 🙂

    Kudos should go out to the creator of the game. He did the programming, made the graphics and composed the music/sfx! That’s quite impressive!

    Now.. let’s call upon Boris Becker to give us strength in the coming tennis matches on our computers and consoles! May the ball be with you!

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