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Feature: Ace tennis games for summer

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Gaming Feature: Tennis

With the 2010 FIFA World Cup currently dominating the headlines, it's easy to forget that the world's oldest and biggest tennis tournament is also under way. Much like the football, Wimbledon provides viewers with a glimmer of hope that one of our national players can pick up a win and end years of waiting for that elusive trophy.

While not quite as prolific and plentiful as the countless football games on offer, tennis is also big business in the video game world, and a whole manner of titles have been released over the years, including accurate simulations as well as cartoonish creations full of recognised video game mascots.

Digital Spy takes a look at some of the finest tennis games that have made an impact on gamers over the years.



Pong

Pong
Pong is certainly one of the oldest, simplest and most recognised video games of all time, and proves without a shadow of a doubt that you don't need flash graphics to make an addictive video game experience.

While not strictly a tennis game in the traditional sense, the premise was similar enough to the game to warrant inclusion on this list. Players control one of two paddles on either the left or right side of the screen and must move the paddle up and down to hit the ball (dot) to your opponent.

A true video game hall of famer, Pong set the scene for video games' domination when it was released in 1972. 38 years later, Pong is still enjoyable and certainly deserves plaudits for being one of the most influential and important games ever.



Mario Power Tennis

Mario Power Tennis
Without question the pinnacle of mascot-driven tennis games, Mario Tennis on the N64 is as addictive as it is colourful. Play as a number of old Nintendo favourites, or new kids on the block such as Waluigi and Princess Daisy.

The appeal of Mario Tennis is the multiplayer, and playing a game of doubles with three friends is as much fun as you're ever going to get on the computer screen. The game also allows for stat transfers from its GBA equivalent, with added bonuses to boot.

Mario Tennis was followed by Mario Power Tennis on the Gamecube, which added power shots into the mix and could be used as a last-ditch resort to saving the point, or as a sure-fire way to smash the ball past your opponent into oblivion. Although this added gameplay mechanic was slightly divisive, it meant that the point wasn't over until you had visual confirmation that you won - which resulted in many a premature celebration when you thought you had your opponent licked after a long point, only for them to save it at the end.

Mario Tennis can now be downloaded from the Virtual Console for 1000 points (£7).



Grand Slam Tennis

Gaming Review: Grand Slam Tennis
If there's one thing Electronic Arts does well it's the sports sim. Grand Slam Tennis for the Wii (and soon to be for the Xbox 360 and PS3), was one of the first 'serious' tennis simulations to utilise the Wii Motion Plus. In fact it was the first game in Europe to be bundled with the peripheral.

The added bonus of using the Motion Plus is that you now have a Wii tennis game that offers greater accuracy of movement, leading to a more realistic tennis experience. When DS reviewed the game, it was the strategic element of play that really impressed, as well as the ability to play as the current cream of the crop and legends such as the outspoken John McEnroe - complete with temper tantrums.

Typically for an EA game, Grand Slam Tennis is choc full of features and gives players plenty to do in between winning those all-important championships.

PS3 and 360 versions are planned, and may well arrive with the release of PlayStation Move and Microsoft's Kinect.



Virtua Tennis

Virtua Tennis and its original sequel Virtua Tennis 2 were two of the most enjoyable arcade titles to ever take our money back in the late '90s.

The success of those games - thanks to a mixture of realistic graphics and fun, easy pick-up-and-play arcade gameplay - spawned countless console ports, and the Dreamcast version is still lauded as one of the ultimate gaming experiences of a generation.

Unfortunately, recent attempts to replicate the early success of the franchise have so far failed to live up to expectation, and DS wasn't alone in thinking that a decent tennis game had been spoiled with poor execution of game modes and online play. If you're looking to play a truly legendary tennis title, dust off the old Dreamcast and stick in a copy of the first two games, while Sega makes the necessary improvements that will once again see the franchise king of the centre court.



Sega Superstars Tennis

Sega Superstars Tennis
When Nintendo makes a good video game (a la Mario Kart), the rest of the world usually attempts to put their own spin on it complete with their lesser mascots. Unfortunately, as is the case with Sega Superstars Tennis, the rest of the world usually fails to measure up to Nintendo's offering by some way.

Sega Superstars Tennis is a lesser version of Mario Tennis, but when you have a game as good as Mario's, lesser doesn't always mean bad.

It offers a wide range of familiar characters and locations from franchises such as Sonic, Super Monkey Ball and even NiGHTS, plus there are novel courts and mini-games from the likes of House Of The Dead, Virtual Cop and Space Harrier, with the mini-games one of the stronger elements of the game.

What you get out of Sega Superstars Tennis probably comes down to how big a fan of Sega you are, but even without the perfectly balanced gameplay of Mario Tennis, there's still a great deal of charm present in this decent tennis game.



Wii Sports

Wii Sports: Tennis
When launched alongside the Wii console back in 2006, Wii Sports helped to change public perception of video games from something that was played by socially awkward teens in a poorly lit bedroom, to something that could be enjoyed by the whole family, from grandmother to grandchild.

With bowling, golf, boxing, baseball on offer, it was the tennis that perhaps captured most people's imaginations, with a representation of the game that could be played indoors, with outdoor motions and gestures.

It may not have been the most realistic game ever, and it was frustrating that you had so little real control over your avatar, but nevertheless, hitting those forehands and backhands was so much fun, and really showed people what this new machine was capable of.

One of the biggest selling games of all time, due to the fact that it comes bundled with the Wii, the only advice for anybody who hasn't played it is to ensure that the controller is strapped on nice and tight and don't swing too close to the TV.



Retro Endorsed Tennis Games

Pete Sampras Tennis
If you fancy revisiting an old 16-bit classic, why not try Pete Sampras Tennis for the Megadrive or Jimmy Connor's Pro Tennis Tour for the SNES? Both games are not without merit, and despite not being up to today's standards graphically and in terms of game speed, both are still somewhat enjoyable if you fancy getting all misty eyed with nostalgia.

However, if endorsements are your thing, just remember to avoid the stinker that was Andre Agassi Tennis for the SNES and Megadrive. A great player, but a distinctly average game at best.

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