Tennis. You guessed it, it’s Tennis. One of Nintendo’s simple yet dependable early sports titles actually introduced some new ideas that took video tennis well beyond the Pong-styled clones previously tasked with representing the sport.


Japanese Title: テニス Tenisu
English Release: Tennis (NES, 1985)

Release Date: February 21, 1986 (Launch)
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo R&D1, Intelligent Systems
Genre: Sports
Product Code: FMC-TEN
Disk Format: Single-sided
Notable Credits:  Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto.

You wouldn’t know it to look at it, but Tennis actually incorporates a few fairly sophisticated programming tricks to bring video game Tennis much closer to actual tennis more so then its Pong-like progeny ever could have dreamed.

The thing that made Nintendo’s Tennis different was the games use of perspective. The camera (as it is) is fixed behind the players avatar, with the field of vision narrowing across the court to the opponent player at the far end. The sense of scale that this perspective provides may be lost on players now, but at the time this was truly a novel concept. Everything from the scaling sprites to the shadow dropped by the ball which aides in providing spacial awareness screamed innovation at the time, and was emulated by nearly every tennis video game that followed in Tennis’ meek foot steps.

Tennis is essentially the same game as released two years earlier in cart format for Nintendo’s Family Computer. There is only one distinct difference between the Famicom/Nintendo Entertain System game (also called Tennis), in that there is one single extra level of difficulty; 6 to the original versions 5.

Tennis has no extra modes other than straight up bare bones tennis, but does feature a two player mode in the form of a co-op doubles feature.

Tennis spans only a single side of the disk and does not make use of the Disk Systems extra sound channel. Strangely, Tennis does not use the disk exclusive (at the time) save feature.