The Game: Is it Pong anthropomorphized, or is it tennis rehumanized? Two people dash back and fourth across a court, making every attempt to intercept the incoming ball and slap it back into their opponent’s side of the net. As with so many other things in life, he who drops the ball suffers severely. (Activision, 1981)
Memories: Doesn’t really matter how you dress it up: it’s all tennis. Only Activision‘s Tennis cartridge, programmed by Alan Miller, was the first time someone had tried to make the tennis players look like…well, tennis players, at least on the VCS. As one of the very first titles released by Activision, Tennis broke graphical ground, but kept game play simple, often simulating an existing sport or activity – the salad days of innovation with games like Pitfall! were still to come.
But other nifty graphical refinements could be found with Tennis, not the least of which was a three-dimensional court and the shadow of the tennis ball in flight, all accomplished without costing the game any of its speed or causing on-screen flickering. Other than that, it’s a fairly straightforward and simple game – all that video tennis really needs to be.