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Tennis – Game Boy

Tennis – Game Boy

gbtennis_(11)Platform: Nintendo Game Boy

Developer: Intelligent Systems (For Nintendo)

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): August 14, 1989

Genre: Sports (Tennis)

Nerd Rating: 4 out of 10

Reviewed by NerdBerry

I recently had a chance to pull the Game Boy out and play through some classic (or not-so-classic) Game Boy games on my long trip from Raleigh to Pittsburgh last week. One of the many games I had a chance to really play (as I forced my girlfriend to drive in torrential downpours, encouraging her to drive slower all the way so I could get more playing time / not die in a gruesome car crash). The first game I pulled out of my goodies bag was a faded orange and gray cartridge simply titled: TENNIS. There’s something about this game that just isn’t all that bad and can be decent for passing time, but there’s…. well… just read on.

Tennis_GB_00-00When you first turn the system on, you’ll see some plain main-menu options. The 3 options on the home page are:

  • 1-Player
  • 2-Player
  • Music Yes

And that’s it. Those are the only options. If you press A on the “Music” option it will toggle between yes and no. I opted to keep it on so my girlfriend would get annoyed with me, but that plan backfired as it resulted in Alanis Morissette to be turned up even louder. It’s a funny, funny thing. I’ve got one hand on my Game Boy, and the other is turning down the car-stereo volume. Once you click 1-player or 2-player, you are given an option to choose a level of difficulty. Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4, with level 4 being the hardest. But I quickly learned the difficulty setting didn’t make much of a difference, as tennis2the true challenge was playing this game and not as much about beating the opponent.

Once you start, you’ll notice a terrible representation of 3 dimensional graphics. The court is shown from an aerial top down semi-isometric view.  The lines on the court are really rough looking and not straight at all. But it is the limited Game Boy and this is 1989, so we look past that and try to understand the sentiment felt towards TENNIS when this game first came out. Even though your first reaction of the tennis court might look like an awful tennis court, a simple artistic rendition of a shadow under the ball changes the entire aspect of the game! This little shadow under the ball transforms this aesthetically-challenged tennis court into a 3D world set to rival the most graphically detailed PlayStation 4 games! Okay, not quite. But it really does change everything. Almost instantly, the players seem to be a little more 3D, the tennis-net seems a little more 3D, and so forth. What a good technique, and I commend Intelligent Systems / Nintendo for incorporating it.

The gameplay in TENNIS is a little difficult to really grasp. You’ll learn what button does what, but it doesn’t alter the fact that your player moves exceptionally slow across the court, or that the ball flies like a crippled penguin (yes, I know… Penguins… they don’t fly. Keep your thoughts inside your tiny head please. Yes, I know…. Your head… It’s stupid). Both players walk across the screen in the slowest fashion. They can walk in any direction, which is nice, but tennis_gameboy_3dsdue to the narrow graphical abilities of the Game Boy, it can be frustratingly difficult to really comprehend where your player is on the court in respects to the ball location / ball travel-path. If you are on the right side of the court and the ball is hit to the left, there is no possible way for you to even get close to reaching that ball. Some incorporation of running or diving would have been a truly wonderful addition, but instead we are left with these molasses-footed odd-ball tennis players who probably wouldn’t even walk up an escalator in the mall if they were being chased by a man-eating rabid bear.

Once you get used to the fact that your player can’t run, dive, or locate his TV remote because he’s so confused, you’ll begin to formulate a strategy that includes hitting the ball and running to the middle of the court and waiting for your opponent to hit the ball your way. There is virtually no control over what direction YOU hit the ball, however, and you should be happy just to get your racket on it. By hitting the A-button, you will drive a fast low ball just above the net. By hitting the B-button, you will pop the ball high into the air. At first I didn’t quite understand why the hell anyone would ever use the B-button, but I believe it is best used when your opponent is right up on the net and you can hit it over his head (although I never really had this opportunity, I assume that’s what the developers had in mind).

Considering when TENNIS was made, it could have been a lot worse. I’m sure it didn’t cost TOO much to develop, and the concept of playing tennis in your car or at the Laundromat was obviously enticing enough to buy this game in 1989. It could have been a worse game by far, but it’s really just not very fun at all today. It’s incredibly difficult to hit the ball when it comes your way as the ball speedtennis_gameboy_3ds is so slow, you’ll sometimes miss the ball with the first swing, but still be able to hit it with the second swing. Timing is a true challenge. None of the challenges of this game are really worth the effort at all, though. You can probably find this game for about $1 or less in a bargain bin somewhere, and that’s where it belongs… IN the bin! Don’t take it out! Just leave it there.

If they were able to incorporate something else into this game, it might have had a shot. But the simplicity is too, well, simple. And it’s just not detailed enough to warrant any “WOW!” reactions from its players. It needs a hell of a lot of work. And not to mention (I guess I’m actually going to mention it) that it gets boring. I spent about 2 hours on this game, and by the time I mastered it in and out, it wasn’t even fun to play anymore. I think the developers put in a valiant effort to make a decent sports title, but sometimes the limitations of the system leave the developers without much to work with. And if that’s the case, you have to wonder if it was even worth making? Overall, TENNIS gets a poor rating, but not for lack of effort.

Oh, and is it just me or does that referee look VERY familiar? He looks a lot like a famous Italian carpenter-turned-plumber that I know………..

Nerd Rating: 4 out of 10

Reviewed by NerdBerry

Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.


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