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Our all time Top 10 list of the Tennis Video Games

Hello to all of our Tennis video game followers and fans. As a pretty diverse group, with a common goal, we have finally decided upon the ultimate list of the best Tennis video games ever. It was hard to narrow down, and as such, we will list them in no particular order. There’s been dozens and dozens of games over the decades that ranged from arcade to simulation to simcade and even cartoon, and we’ve played them. Here’s our breakdown. 

Super Tennis- SNES ( Switch via Virtual Console); 1991

Fast, Fun and addictive. It was a non licensed Nintendo game that featured a few dozen Male and Female characters, each with different skills. Although simplistic in nature, it took time to fully master, each character had slightly different styles of play and the 4 court surfaces all felt different to play on. Climbing the rankings in Circuit mode was a challenging task that kept gamers playing.  The controls were very basic; the control pad moved the ball around after it was hit and it also moved the characters around, strokes were handled by the face buttons (with your general flat, spin, slice and lob variations).      

Smash Court Tennis 2- Playstation 2 ; 2004, Metacritic score : 74

  • Featuring a wide range of modes , 16 Licensed pros, Licensed Grand Slam and popular guest characters from Namco’s Tekken and Soul Calibur series, this game was a highly rated game that veered towards arcade styled game play with a simulation approach to it’s presentation. It had a unique career mode feature where it would start you into various points in a match and the player had to complete certain tasks to further to advance the score ( ex, starting down 1-4, 40-40, the player must hit 2 “nice forehands” in the game; if you complete the task and win the game then the next score maybe be 5-4 set point….if you fail the task or lose that game, then next point may be 1-6, 2-1). It was very random but created a tense feeling during the career matches. Gameplay felt contained but fun despite lacking much depth. It was also one of the first games to use a “run” button ( done by holding down R1). 

Virtua Tennis- Sega Dreamcast ; 2000, Metacritic score : 92

  • First released as an arcade game, it quickly grew popular and was later released on Sega’s new console, Dreamcast. Arcade in both design and gameplay, it was a fast and frenetic 3D tennis game that featured a roster of 8 Professionally licensed ATP players and 8 fictional players as well as the infamous arcade mode end boss, Master. The World Circuit was a map based mode mixing training games and matches with increasing difficulty. The mini games were creative and fun, and challenging each player felt like a huge battle. Players were able to unlock various outfits, players and stadiums by earning points. The gameplay felt responsive, with a button for lobs, a button for slicing and a button for slicing. Each pro played a bit differently and there was always a bit of strategy involved in beating the AI players.

Tennis 2K2- Sega Dreamcast and Playstation 2; 2001, Metacritic score: 90

  • Possibly the “GOAT” of Tennis games. Highly rated, highly successful and remarked by many as the epitome of Tennis gaming. It featured the same fast paced, frantic gameplay of the previous game but added licensed WTA players ( the first game to feature both Williams sisters) as well as a deeper career mode that continued in the nature of its predecessor. It kept the same simple system of holding down the button to “charge” you shots and featured just 3 shot buttons ( slice, lob and ground stroke) but the variety of player styles and computer AI made most matches feel unique. Though older in nature and harder to play if you don’t own an older console, not many younger gamers will have had the pleasure of playing Tennis 2k2, but make no mistake- it’s in the “GOAT” contention. 

Top Spin 3- Playstation 2, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 ; 2008, Metacritic score: 78

  • The third entry into the Top Spin series and the first under new development team P.A.M ( made up of the team responsible for the first 2 entries). This game took a drastic departure from the fast paced arcade nature of the first two games and utilized a divisive simulation style of gameplay. Timing, Nerves, Control VS Power shots, Risk shots and more made up the game play and added a very hard to master playing experience- but one that was deeply satisfying for those that took the time to learn the system. The game featured a nice roster of current ATP and WTA players and was the first Tennis game to include “Legends” into the roster. Each player had various ratings, such as forehand, backhand, power, serve, control that all made up how each player played.  The Career mode was fun and required your junior player to hire a coach ( each with a themed game style ) and it also allowed the gamers a chance to become “sponsored” by one of the majors brands ( unlocking gear and apparel from said brands). It is probably the most realistic tennis gaming experience on consoles and remains the benchmark for most gamers. 


Top Spin 4- Playstation 2, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360; 2011, Metacritic score: 84

  • Far and away the most acclaimed Tennis video game ever and it’s still to this day the standard for all future games. Top Spin 4 strayed away from the simulation aspect of the prior game and found balance with a “simcade” hybrid. Faster in pace but realistic in nature, the gameplay was polished, deep and fluid, dropping the risk shot but being far more unforgiving with time than its predecessors. It boasted the largest roster (at that time) of pros and legends as well as licensing from 3 of the 4 Majors and 4 additional Masters Series 1000 events. It added a few mini games, such as King of the Court, as well as a fleshed out Career mode that followed in the footsteps of its predecessors. This is also notable amongst gamers as it was the first game to host an active online community and a virtual online world tour. Fans preferred this arcade take in gameplay over the simulation style of Top Spin 3.

Mario Tennis 64 – Nintendo 64; 2000, Metacritic score: 91

  • The Mario Tennis game that still has a consistent speedrunning discord server and many enthusiastic passionate players, Mario Tennis 64 was a real step in the right direction for Nintendo upon the release of the Nintendo 64, with many of the iconic characters alongside varying difficulty cups (similar to Mario Kart) to keep gamers enticed for hours on end with the classic arcade gameplay that Mario Tennis still provides to this day.

Virtua Tennis 4- Playstation 3, Wii and Xbox 360; 2011, Metacritic score: 70

  • Virtua Tennis 4 marked a slight change in gameplay the 6 other entries into the series by going with a slower paced engine, removing the infamous diving shots and emphasis on “power” meter that allowed for point ending special shots. Each pro had a unique style archetype and played differently down to having unique animations and attires. Sega introduced cutting edge “sweat” physics, which had a very split reaction amongst gamers. The Tour mode went into the route of a board game, with the various stops representing challenges, tournaments, training or even freak accidents; players would have a set number of “moves”, which left a random feel of what happens next in the career . It also featured a motion control mode that made use of the Playstation move, Xbox Kincet and Wii Motion Plus that all allowed for “revolutionary’ 3D motion control systems giving the feel of “stepping into the shoes of some of the world’s best”.

Top Spin – Xbox and Playstation 2 ; 2003, Metacritic score : 89

  • The OG Top Spin game came out of the gate boasting cutting edge graphics, top notch licensing, a sleek presentation and fast and furious gameplay that was easy to pick up for all. It utilized a special meter called “ITZ” that allowed for players to unleash extra powerful shots when full. A deep character creation system and a rich career mode kept gamers around for a long time. This was the first Tennis game to rival Virtua Tennis and it started a storied video rivalry between the two franchises that mirrored some of the more memorable Tennis rivalries in real life.  

Tennis Elbow 2013 – PC; 2013 +, Metacritic score: 90 (1 review)

  • Tennis Elbow 2013 is the work of a lifetime: the more you play it the more you understand all the work and the talent that its developer, Manutoo, put into it. Focus is all on gameplay, no graphics, licenses or bizarre game modes, Tennis Elbow wants to deliver the best tennis feeling possible for a videogame. Developing and polishing the game is something Manutoo did over the course of years, without issues such as deadlines or specific needs from publishers, and led to a game so fun and immersive in terms of gameplay that its community is possibly the biggest among tennis games and series. The biggest downside of this game, not considering the very poor graphical and technical side due to the poor budget, is the impossibility to play it on consoles. The game is also widely moddable, allowing gamers the ability to create animations, characters and so on, currently Manutoo is actively working to release Tennis Elbow 4, his next title, by 2022, on all platforms (including, for the first time, consoles). 
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