Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! GameBoy Tennis

Retro Game of the Day! GameBoy Tennis

Tennis for GameBoy, released at the system's lanch in 1989. You'd think it would not get much simpler than this - but does simplicity translate to goodness? Man - I hate when reviews start out like that..!

Tennis rolled out alongside the likes of Alleyway, Super Marioland, Baseball, and Tetris. An even-enough keel, you'd figure most shoppers would jump on Mario and of course be more than occupied with the novelty that was Tetris. Did that leave much room for the likes of Tennis? After all, what 11-yr-old American kid was going to be fascinated with such a game, given the alternatives? That being the case, I will assume Tennis didn't get much attention at it's release. Still, Nintendo habitually liked to release Tennis games at or near their system launches back in the day, so it was no surprise to see this sharing shelf space.

The game is solid! I must say, despite it's simplicity (or because of it) this title plays a mean, satisfying game of Tennis. My friend got it for Xmas, found it stowed away in advance by his mom, busted it open and played it for hours - he raved about it. Strangely, I never gave it a look until a good 10 years later - and even then (though by then, GameBoy Color was in vogue) this title still held up very well. Look at it - it's squat, simplistic, spartan - but it is servicable and it's quite fun. Easy is no sweat but try cranking up the difficulty and the game will send you crying home to your mommy.

It is a testament to Nintendo's design division that they could so properly balance the gameplay/physics and get such a compelling little game out of this (in hindsight, it's much more successful that it's Baseball counterpart).

It is worth noting that if you had a GameBoy Color - 10 years after the release of this 1st-Generation GB title - and stuck your Tennis cart in, the game would render in color. Whhaaaa??? How did they finagle that, what sort of prescient technology did they used to program this game? It always boggled my mind - it wasn't dripping amazing with color, but notable enough that even "smart guys like me scratched their heads."

There's tons of worthy Tennis games available for the discerning pocket gamer - some more worthy than others. In light of many of them, Tennis must seem to fall way short for lack of options/features. But hey. For a quick fix, ultimate pick-up-and-play satisfaction, you really can't do wrong with this choice.

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