Reviewed by Martin Henely, Posted on 2010-07-04


Developer: Activision Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 1981 Available On: Atari 2600

Sports games on the Atari 2600 are, for the most part, quite basic. Indeed, compared to sports games even one generation later on the NES, one could be forgiven for believing that they are absolutely pathetic. However, in many cases, sports games on the Atari 2600 maximize what is possible for the sport in question on the system, especially those released in later years of the life cycle of the system. Tennis, by Activision, was the first tennis game released on the system. Is it any good for its time? Read on to find out.

In case you do not know the concept behind Tennis, allow me to explain it to you. You have two people with rackets, a ball, and a net in the middle of a court. Your objective is to get the ball into a position where your opponent cannot reach it to hit it back toward you. You do this by hitting the ball back and forth jockeying for ball position. What angle you hit the ball in depends on what part of your racket the ball hits, whether it hits the edge or the middle. The widest angles are only available if you have the difficulty switch set to allow them. There are also two different speeds at which the game can be played depending on which game mode you choose. That is pretty much everything that the game has to offer.

Graphically, the tennis court looks like a tennis court, or reasonably so by 1981 standards. The two players look reasonably like people holding tennis rackets. Granted, the graphics are fairly basic, but they get the job done well enough. There are not many sound effects in this game to speak of either, although it was not really until 1982 that the sound capabilities of the Atari 2600 really began to come into their own. Overall, the aesthetics do not detract from the game, but they do not make it appear more impressive than it is either.

This game contains four game modes. Game mode one is a one-player game against the computer at full speed. Game mode two is full speed against a human opponent. Games three and four are one and two players, respectively, at a slower speed. Granted, this is not the variety offered by some games on the Atari system, but at least it is more than just a one-player mode and a two-player mode. Actually, many sports games before this time did not have computer AI at all, but rather had forced multiplayer, so the very presence of a computer AI is a plus for this game.

If you are a fan of tennis, this game is a pretty good simulation of the game of tennis considering the capabilities of the Atari 2600, but it does not really have much lasting value. If you are not a fan of tennis, you are probably safe staying away from this game, as it really is not that exciting for those who are not fans of the sport on which it is based. Still, the game is fairly common, and thus fairly cheap, so the best thing may be to just buy it and see what you think of it.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 6.5
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 5.9
Written by Martin Henely Write a User Review

Reviewed by Martin Henely