Top 9 - The Evolution of Tennis Video Games
Tennis video games have been in the news lately - HEAD ambassador Andy Murray won a virtual Madrid Open in 2020, after the real-life event was cancelled because of the global pandemic.
There was plenty for tennis gamers to talk about during the 2020 season, with the release of a couple of sequels: Tennis World Tour 2 and Australian Open Tennis 2.
Here's a look through some of the most notable tennis games in history, and also some recent releases:
You can’t talk about tennis video games without mentioning Pong, which was not only one of the first efforts to bring sport to the arcade but was one of the very first video games. Made by Atari, its two-dimensional graphics reached the mainstream, first in arcades and then in households on the earliest Atari consoles. It was given the 3D treatment in a 1999 remake by PlayStation and is still a regular cultural reference, from adverts to shows such as That ‘70s Show, King of The Hill and Saturday Night Live.
Developed by Nintendo, Tennis was one of 18 launch games for the first iteration of Nintendo’s NES console, before heading to handheld device Game Boy in 1989. The game featured single-player and multi-player modes and let gamers compete in both singles and doubles matches, against one another or together against the computer. In more recent years it has been updated for the Wii sports and Wii U, as well as featuring as an embedded game within Nintendo 64 life simulator Animal Crossing.
VIRTUAL TENNIS, 1999
Over time, tennis video games have become more complex. Virtua Tennis, which was named Power Smash in Japan, challenged players across different modes and court surfaces. Its main World Circuit mode required players to complete training exercises and climb the rankings from a tough starting position of 300. As players completed more workouts and won matches, they unlocked new exercises and even new match outfits.
MARIO TENNIS, 2000
Mario picked up his first racquet on the Nintendo 64. He’s since enjoyed rallies on the Game Boy, Wii, Wii U and Nintendo 3Ds. In the intro to the Power Tennis edition, Mario hijacks a tournament after being eliminated while in the Game Boy Advanced version, defending champion Dweezil refuses to speak to first-time competitors but warms to them in subsequent matches.
TOP SPIN, 2011
The most celebrated tennis games franchise is Top Spin, which began on the Microsoft Xbox in 2003 before heading to Xbox 360 and Playstation. Throughout its four editions, players have enjoyed a variety of modes from singles and doubles matches, grand slams to exhibition tournaments and career mode campaigns. In the latter, tennis fans choose strands of DNA to configure their athlete, choosing their face, body shape and then apparel choices. Aside from match prize money, players make ‘coin’ through sponsorship agreements and public relations duties.
TENNIS WORLD TOUR, 2018
This was the game that HEAD ambassador Andy Murray played on his PlayStation 4 to win a virtual Madrid Open in 2020, after the real-life tournament wasn’t possible. Kiki Bertens won the virtual women's title. That wasn't the first high-profile esports event using this game - in 2018, gamers competed in several countries around the world, with the winners going through to a tournament that was staged at Roland Garros. There is a strong link between this game and the Parisian clay courts - a Roland Garros edition of Tennis World Tour was released in 2019.
TENNIS WORLD TOUR 2, 2020
A new development team have upgraded this game, which now has new doubles features and new stadia to play in. Also look out for HEAD ambassadors Jannik Sinner and Alexander Zverev with their HEAD racquets in the game – while Sinner plays with a SPEED racquet, Zverev swings a GRAVITY.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN TENNIS, 2018
You'll feel as though you're inside the Rod Laver Arena with the officially licensed game of the Australian Open. Reviewers have all enjoyed the feature that lets you create your own player - you can customize a player's face so it looks just you, and then take on some of the sport's biggest stars at Melbourne Park (and other venues).
AUSTRALIAN OPEN TENNIS 2, 2020
The second game in the franchise offers an expansive career mode, which gives you an insight into the lives of our HEAD ambassadors. You'll plan your tournament schedule, thinking about when to rest to avoid fatigue and injury, and also investing in an entourage, giving press conferences and dealing with sponsors. The gameplay is also improved.