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Tennis (Switch)

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Sports
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Developer: D3Publisher
Release Date: Jan. 25, 2018


Switch Review - 'Tennis'

by Cody Medellin on June 11, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

This tennis game can be picked up and played by anyone. Enjoy the game by yourself, or play against family and friends. With eight characters and six courts available, feel the excitement that tennis brings.

When you consider how simple the sport of tennis is, it feels like something that is very hard to ruin. You can probably mess up on the graphics or get a bad roster or even have a bare-bones assortment of modes, but the core game is enjoyable enough that it takes plenty of work and bad decisions to make a terrible video game adaptation of the sport. Yet here we are with Tennis, a game with a simple name but a cavalcade of bad decisions that makes people steer clear of it, despite the very low price tag.

The game modes give you the first clue about its simplicity. Quick Play lets you have a match with random characters. At first, it seems unfair that you can't choose who you want to play as, but even after seeing the stats for each character, you'll discover that every single player moves and hits the same way with no discernable differences. The same goes for the courts, so you're mostly picking one based on appearances rather than ball bounce. Tournament mode lets you go up against three different opponents in order to win. Versus mode lets you play against someone locally, and Rally Challenge has you going up against the CPU to see how long you can keep a rally going before someone misses.

That seems like a decent amount of modes, but when you compare it to other tennis games, it also seems lacking. If you're looking for online play, it doesn't exist. Neither does doubles play, which is curious since the Switch is billing itself as a console with robust multiplayer options. Though it doesn't have a four-player mode, at least a co-op mode would have been sufficient. Of the modes that are here, none are satisfying because you get nothing more than a results screen at completion. You get points for completing a match, but without any unlockables, the stats become meaningless.

All that griping about modes aside, the gameplay is what really counts, and it is here that you discover the game's cardinal sin: You have no control of your player. All of your movements are automatic, so the only thing you have control of is hitting the ball. For a system with functional analog sticks, this decision makes no sense. Unlike the Wii, you need both Joy-Cons to play the game because your analog stick movement can help with hit direction. The dumbing down of the gameplay mechanics turns what could have been something fun into something repetitive, and even the presence of super shots does nothing to improve the experience because they're easily countered.

Tennis allows you to use three different control schemes, but there isn't much difference between them. In portable mode, you can use the touch-screen to register a hit. With the Pro Controller or the Joy-Cons, you can use the analog stick for hit direction, though it sometimes seems that its influence is minimal. You can also decide to use motion controls, but despite what the game's instructions say, all of your swings are translated as basic hits no matter which direction you swing.

The presentation is serviceable. The game has a colorful look that is reminiscent of a few simple sports games that were pumped out by third-party developers during the Wii days. Unfortunately, despite the simple presentation, the frame rate can struggle in the more ornate arenas, which feels odd since the arenas don't have crowds watching you, and no other elements are moving around. The music is fine but very forgettable, and the effects do their job. Each character comes with a few voice samples that play out every time they hit the ball or unleash their special shot, and while none of the sound bites are any good, they quickly become loathsome since they repeat way too often.

There's little to no reason to recommend Tennis to anyone. The paltry amount of modes is unsatisfying, and the characters' only differences lie in their limited speech bank that repeats incessantly. The presentation is bearable, but seeing it struggle is bewildering. More importantly, despite the number of control schemes available, it feels like wasted work since your only real interactions with the game are reduced to hitting the ball. Despite the tempting $8 price tag on the game, you're better served waiting for any other tennis game to come along for the system.

Score: 2.0/10

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