I’ve been trying to play with the Switch a bit more lately, and when Wimbledon started, I caught tennis fever as is the custom every year for around six weeks before I get bored of it. This time, I thought I’d try to prolong my interest in the sport by finding a decent tennis game on the Switch and see how long it’d take me to master it. I’ve not played many tennis games in the last fifteen years ago – my last one was probably Virtua Tennis on the PSP – so I’d no idea where to start with, but decided to go with Tennis Open 2020. Mostly because it was on sale.
It was quite evident why it was on sale within thirty seconds of playing it to be fair. I can’t say a single nice thing about it. It’s probably one of the worst games I’ve played in terms of what I was expecting versus what I actually got. To claim the game is simplistic is probably one of the grossest understatements I could make. It features only one control, flicking the left analogue stick in your desired direction to send the ball. During the tutorial, it makes little difference how you flick it, because the ball will always go where it wants you to hit it. During actual play, you could do the same movements you were doing in the tutorial, only for it to flick off a mile too far in the direction you wanted it to go. Actually trying to hit it with any level of precision seems like a completely fruitless endeavour and one that I gave up on fairly quickly.
It was quite fortunate that I was able to give up on strategy and tactical gameplay in Tennis Open 2020 as early as I did, because I don’t actually think it matters at all. I admit I only played a handful of the cup tournaments, but it did seem like I could just hit the ball straight to win a point. I’d vary the length of my shots, occasionally do drop shots to try to keep my brain from melting out of my ears through sheer boredom, but the computer opponent would almost always miss a shot. Even when they had ample time to hit it, they’d be more than happy just to watch it sail passed their noses and gift me a point.
It’s not just that the controls have you wondering where you’re going to hit it if you try to redirect the ball at all, but you have zero control over your character beyond their stroke. There’s no ability to run to the net, no way for you to actually run into a position where you can execute a forehand or a backhand, it’s all based on where the computer thinks you should be. I went into the game expecting a game of tennis, where I’d actually be challenged with all parts of the game. Not an extremely dull cash-grab that solely relies on you timing your flicks correctly and sending the ball down the line repeatedly.
I couldn’t even say there’s anything nice about the user interface in Tennis Open 2020. You’re greeted with the game telling you to enter your first and last names, and picking an avatar. The avatars are all simply hideous creations that look weirdly out of place, and there are only four or five to choose from, and from what I remember, they were all male – no gender equality here. The worst part is where it tells you to enter your name. First name worked absolutely fine, could put whatever you want in here because it genuinely doesn’t matter. The last name though, unless you have a three-letter last name you won’t be fitting your name in there. You can try, but it’ll just cut it off and you’ll be left with the first three letters of your name regardless.
During games, it doesn’t get much better. The character models are all pretty shoddy, but you can’t really tell as they’re far enough from the “camera” that you can’t see them in too much detail. The score update that pops up every time a point is scored comes up and looks like it was made in Microsoft Paint, and it is always accompanied by a voice over saying the score which doesn’t have any variety to it. They recorded some guy saying six lines and that’s it.
It’s quite obvious why Tennis Open 2020 was on sale. It’s terrible, you should never play it, and if you do own it, I am so sorry for your wasted time and money. It’s the biggest disappointment I’ve had in gaming for a number of years and there’s no reason for you to ever try it, no matter how cheap it gets.