Given the current worldwide pandemic, it’s no surprise that finding open Tennis courts to practice and enjoy it is difficult for most and impossible for some. That shouldn’t keep anyone from finding ways to play the game. Here are a few of the best tennis video games released in recent years that you can play to scratch that itch without risking your health and others:
1. Super Mario Aces
Probably the most popular video game title on the list, Super Mario Aces, is the latest in the venerable Mario Tennis line of games. Released on the Nintendo Switch on June 22, 2018, it’s the most recent title. It’s also one of the more physically demanding games. Players can choose to play it using the Nintendo Switch’s motion controls to swing the Joy-Cons much like one would in real-life with a racket.
Its cartoony art style and mascot character lineup include the classic heroes such as Mario, Luigi, Wario, Peach, Waluigi, Daisy, Rosalina, and more. Super Mario Aces plays more like an arcade tennis experience rather than something more realistic. It’s an enjoyable and entertaining video game that you and your friends can enjoy in both singleplayer and multiplayer modes, but if you’re looking for more of a simulation, read on.
2. Ultimate Tennis
For the first mobile game in this list, we went with Ultimate Tennis. It’s a more realistic, though still very accessible tennis game with surprisingly deep character development and easy-to-learn gesture-based controls. Additionally, it offers impressive graphics with beautifully-rendered characters and detailed level design for a mobile game. You have a variety of cosmetic items with which you can customize your characters’ appearances.
Overall, Ultimate Tennis provides a complete video game package. These are eye-catching graphics, addicting character progression elements, and fun gameplay that can be enjoyed solo or against others online. It’s not just a top-tier mobile tennis game, but one of the best free downloadable sports games period.
3. Tennis Champs Returns
Another mobile game with more of an old-school tennis video game flavor. Tennis Champs Returns (Simply “Tennis Champs” on iOS) is a remake of the original 1995 Amiga game, developed by the original programmer of the home computer version. A returning classic, Tennis Champs Returns is updated with modern features such as retouched animations, all-new physics, AI, new controls, Daily Challenges, and a high new Career mode.
Despite its simple presentation, Tennis Champs Returns sports a full array of game modes one wouldn’t expect from a mobile game. Daily Challenges serve up a mixture of modes, opponents, and mini-games that offer rewards to help you in Career mode. Overall, this thing pits you against a roster of 200 opponents to defeat as you climb the rankings. One impressive feature that isn’t commonplace among mobile games is the ability to play with up to 3 other friends in 4-player local multiplayer (additional controllers needed). Tennis Champs Returns is an exciting casual game with plenty of offerings worth coming back to play.
4. Virtua Tennis 4
Now we’re getting into the heavy hitters. Virtua Tennis should be a familiar name to anyone even remotely interested in the sport, whether mixing videogames into the equation or not. With the first game’s debut by Sega in 1999, its place in arcades was firmly secured as the definitive Tennis arcade cabinet. Virtua Tennis 4, which came out in Spring 2011, was the first main series game to not have an arcade release before the consoles. Virtua Tennis 4 features an impressive roster of real-life tennis pros whose likenesses are immortalized in digital glory. This includes Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Tommy Haas, Gael Monfils, Juan Martin del Potro, Fernando Gonzalez, Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Andreas Seppi on the men’s front.
On the other hand, in the women’s division, Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Maria Sharapova, Anna Chakvetadze, Caroline Wozniacki, and Laura Robson represents the team; as well as tennis legends Jim Courier, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, and Patrick Rafter.
5. Top Spin 4
Closing off the list, we have what is widely considered by Tennis fans to be the best representation of the sport in video games, Top Spin 4. This 2011 title is a diversion from the more arcade-like tennis games, with a focus on true tennis immersion with more nuance and finesse involved in controlling the ball – much like in real life. This matter has the consequence of making Top Spin 4 a harder game to get into and master. But many think of this as a benefit. The game rewards players who take the time and know something about the sport.
Top Spin 4’s player roster is extensive, with pro players including James Blake, Nikolay Davydenko, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Gilles Simon, Bernard Tomic, and Stanislas Wawrinka from the (then) current ATP; Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg, Michael Chang, Jim Courier, Ivan Lendl, Patrick Rafter, and Pete Sampras representing ATP legends; and Eugenie Bouchard, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina, Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, and Vera Zvonareva representing the WTA.
AO Tennis 2, which came out in January 2020, was met with negative reviews on release but has since received updates and patches that have fixed some of the game’s most glaring issues. It is now generally a more positively-reviewed game.
Tennis World Tour was similarly negatively-reviewed upon its release in June 2018 due to an advertised feature. Namely, online multiplayer—being absent upon launch. This thing is a spiritual successor to the Top Spin series. It was used by the organizers of the Madrid Open to host a virtual tournament during the COVID-19 pandemic. Andy Murray and Kiki Bertens won this virtual tournament, playing as themselves in the game.
Both games are praised for their excellent graphical qualities, which take advantage of nearly a decade of progress in computer hardware and video game development techniques since the last major tennis games were released in 2011.
Hopefully, this list encourages our readers to continue playing tennis, even if only in virtual form. While nothing compares to the physical and mental thrill of the real thing, tennis video games offer an outlet for fans to enjoy the sport from the safety of home. And with many of these games taking advantage of online multiplayer features, we can even find opponents or partners to play with—all without ever needing to get off the couch.
Additionally, there’s much more than you can get as you play at home. Think of it as a great bonding time with your family and a time to upskill your abilities. Well, who knows? This event will be the start for you to apply these game techniques to a real-life tennis match! So, don’t hesitate to try and play it now with your loved ones!
Jonathan J Kingston is a video game enthusiast, gamer, and a veteran video game news writer for Games.lol. He spends his free time hunting for free game sites and testing their reliability.