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Tennis is one of the most fun individual competitions you can play. It’s popular worldwide and doesn’t need much setup — all you need is a ball, a racket, a net and chalk to draw the boundaries. In the video game world, it may seem like tennis doesn’t have much representation. The Maddens and 2ks of the world occupy much of the sports gaming market! However, there have been some solid titles over the years. Here are the seven best tennis games we’ve played over the years.
7. Tennis (NES)
We’d be remiss not to mention one of the first tennis games ever made. Nintendo released Tennis as one of the release titles with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and 16 other games. You may recognize other games like Super Mario Bros., Ice Climber, Duck Hunt and Baseball. Then, Nintendo re-released Tennis as a launch title for the Game Boy in 1989.
Tennis is a simple game, but it gets the job done. You play against your buddy or against a computer on an 8-bit tennis court. The rules are the same, with games, sets and matches determining the winner. While it’s not the most advanced game, you’ll still enjoy it. Play with your parents or grandparents because there’s a good chance they played it back in the day.
6. Wii Sports
There’s a reason why Wii Sports is among the best-selling games of all time. In fact, it’s the most successful Nintendo game of all time, with 83 million copies sold worldwide. The technicality here is it comes with every Wii console. However, it’s still an entertaining game to play — especially when you’re playing tennis.
Is Wii Sports tennis equivalent to playing like Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer? No, but it creates a fantastic arcade-like experience. While the best tennis games typically require a joystick and button, you can get in the action with a Wiimote. You can get a decent workout with enough tennis matches played on the console!
5. Mario Tennis
Nintendo has had numerous great tennis games over the years, with mostly arcade experiences for gamers. If Nintendo is involved, you know Mario will show up at some point — therefore, Mario Tennis gets a spot on this list.
Nintendo has made multiple Mario Tennis games, so we’ll be more specific and say the Nintendo 64 entry is the best title. Mario Tennis debuted in 2000 and was critical for the company’s progression in Mario gaming. The gameplay was simple but solid, as expected from a Nintendo game. However, the biggest draw might be the introduction of Waluigi. This beloved character made his Nintendo debut as Luigi’s foil and has stolen our hearts ever since.
We’ll insert an honorable mention to Mario Power Tennis for the GameCube, released four years after the N64 title. This game expanded upon the previous iteration by adding many more playable characters and courts, some of which affected your gameplay. You could see the same thing happen in Mario Superstar Baseball and other iconic Mario sports games of the 2000s.
4. Grand Theft Auto V
Tennis is not the primary focus of Grand Theft Auto V, but it is an option as one of the side activities. The easiest way to play is by controlling Michael De Santa and playing in his backyard. By default, you’ll play against his wife, Amanda, in each game. Tennis is quite fun in GTA 5 and feels realistic compared to other tennis simulators. The controls are smooth, and you can vary your spins with each hit.
Besides Michael, you can use other characters to play tennis in Los Santos. These locations include two places near Vespucci Beach, the Great Ocean Highway, Eclipse Boulevard and others. Did you know you can use tennis mods in GTA 5? There really is a mod for everything! GTA 5 players have manipulated story mode’s tennis games to insert vehicles on the court and commit other mischief.
3. Virtua Tennis
Let’s go back to 1999 and play Virtua Tennis (People in Japan may recognize this game as Power Smash). This game was first released in 1999 with the debut title, Virtua Tennis. The Virtua Tennis franchise ended up with 4 titles, with the Virtua Tennis Challenge concluding in 2012. Sega AM3 is no longer operating, so it’s doubtful we’ll ever get another Virtua Tennis game. However, the time spent playing these games was well worth it.
We’ll pick Virtua Tennis 3 for this list because it felt like the franchise’s sweet spot. Virtua Tennis 3 was the first title you could play on the PS3 and Xbox 360, so it opened doors to new tennis audiences. The game’s career mode was challenging but fun to play if you enjoy the grind. You’re in the SPT World Tour ranked 300th — dead last, in other words. Can you climb to the top and knock off Federer or the Williams sisters?
2. Tennis Elbow
Research shows about 1.8 billion people worldwide play video games on a PC. You’ll need to join that crowd to play Tennis Elbow, a PC exclusive first released in late 1996. Tennis Elbow is one of the best tennis games because the gameplay feels realistic. Simultaneously, it doesn’t feel frustratingly tricky to win. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel like a natural on the court.
Another pro of playing Tennis Elbow is the updates you get if you play the most recent edition: Tennis Elbow 4. Even Tennis Elbow 3 received frequent updates between 2015 and 2018, ensuring players get the most out of their money.
1. Top Spin 4
If you want to play with the tennis greats of real life, you’ll need to play the Top Spin series. PAM Development and Indie Games released the first Top Spin as an Xbox exclusive in 2003 before opening it up to PC and the PlayStation 2 in the next couple of years. This series is the closest you’ll get to simulation tennis, as you’ll get slightly more authentic moves than you might see in a Nintendo Game.
The best game in the series is Top Spin 4, which 2K released in 2011. In fact, this game is the most recent in Top Spin’s history. While it’s not updated, you’ll get to play as tennis greats like Roger Federer, Rafael Ndal, Serena Williams and Pete Sampras. 2K Sports is still around, so will we ever see a reboot of this franchise?
Finding the Best Tennis Games of All Time
Tennis is among the most fun sports, whether you play in your backyard, on a local court or on Wii Sports. The video game selection for tennis might not be as wide as football or basketball, but there are some gems out there. Try one of these seven best tennis games to get your fill.