Tennis Clash Review

Tennis Clash Review: The Thin Line Between Joy & Frustration and Success & Greed

Long story short, I found Tennis Clash exiting and very promising the first hour, only to grow annoyed and frustrated by it in the end. Still, Tennis Clash gave me something that no other game in recent memory had. More about that in the long story below.

Sports

I like sports. There are times when I want to go outside and play some conventional sports like basketball, football and even the old tennis, instead of just vegetating in front of a screen. But with everything being shut down due to the covid19 pandemic, those of us without personal golf courses, tennis or basketball courts, must make do with their alternatives on our mobile phones, PC-s or consoles.

A week ago, while browsing on Instagram, a story popped up with the name “Tennis Clash”. It was one of those interactive ads I hate, yet something still made my finger click accept and in no time I was swiping to serve.

Oh dear… What follows are ninety seconds of pure joy! Somewhere during those ninety seconds, I decided I must review this marvel of a tennis simulation.

Starting with Tennis Clash

Tennis Clash pic1

OK, maybe simulation isn’t the right word. The characters and graphics seem cartoonish, yet still pretty and extremely fun. It somehow drags you to its world, and you enter willingly. But, can it keep me there, I wondered?

The loading screen adds to the hype I feel, showing you a collage of characters to play with, along with some interesting info from the real tennis world. Speaking of real tennis, you won’t find names like Federer, Nadal or Djokovic in Tennis Clash, their rights being expensive, so you play in a world of generic characters.

Each of those characters is different, weaker in some areas, better at others. You start as Jonah, a 35-year old veteran, that looks bulkier than most bodybuilders I know. OK, that slightly broke my initial immersion, but I didn’t give it a second thought afterwards. Lead changes, match points, a hawk-eye system, everything seems in place to recreate some tennis magic.

A slight digression here. I played the game on my old work phone without any issues, so even if you are running an older device you shouldn’t have any trouble with it.

Game Mechanics

The game mechanics of Tennis Clash boils down to “swiping and pointing”. You swipe into the direction where you want the ball to go, and you point where you want your player to go next.

When swiping, there is a slight finesse to hitting the ball. If you want to hit hard and low, you swipe shorter and faster (which is less precise), and the other way around for longer and higher balls. You can also pull and swipe in the opposite direction for some tasty drop shots, but that demands a bit of practice.

Speaking of practice, training is the first thing available to you. Outside training, the game features a dozen different tournaments, starting from New York, the cheapest one to enter.

As you progress and become better, you earn more coins and gems, more XP, higher ranking and level and you open higher ranked tournaments. All of this nets you better types of reward bags and eventually special cards that upgrade your skills and give you an edge in PVP.

And Tennis Clash is all about PVP – measuring your skill against other players. The game features a ranking system which makes you play the game frequently to be able to advance.

PVP, or Show Me the Money

Practice is the only place where you can just relax, hit a few balls by yourself and try to beat your score. In all other cases you play against human opposition, and soon start to pray that the game doesn’t match you with a way better rival. It’s all about winning in Tennis Clash.

And for the first hour, boy do you win. Your strikes are precise and sharp, even though you aren’t skilled yet. The opponents are easy game and matches go fast because they consist of just a handful of points instead of two or three full sets.

After about an hour, I started asking myself if I am not being taken for a ride. Suddenly my opponents became much better in some skills (like backhand, serve or forehand) and they became VERY hard to pass on the net.

This gave birth to my first stab of frustration. You see, when you go out to the net, and hit hard, the game gives your opponent a bit of a slow-mo so he can still catch that passing shot. Yet, in some cases it seemed like my rivals’ racquet was six feet long, because they were absolutely impossible to pass!

The fact they don’t hold a special card that would let them do such stuff maneuvers makes you wonder for the first time – is the game just unbalanced, or is it trying very hard to be unbalanced (to make you reach for your wallet)?

Free-to-play Pay-to-win

Tennis CLash Rewards

The free-to-play and pay-to-win formula is well developed among modern mobile games and for good reason – it brings in hard cash. I’ve heard of players paying thousands of dollars each month on mobile games that I would barely give a second glance. These games play players against each other in an endless “who’s going to pay more to actually win”. A good example of these types of games is Game of Thrones: Conquest.

A classic mechanic used in these free-to-play pay-to-win games is to both reward frequent play and restrict it at the same time. You usually get rewards for playing it, even if you lose, but then have to either pay with real money or wait for some down-time before you can play again. Tennis Clash does this as well and it was my second stab of irritation.

When you win a match in Tennis Clash, you are rewarded with a bag which contains some coins, gems, cards, whatever. However, you only have four slots for those bags and each of them takes at least three hours to unlock. If you don’t want to wait, there are ads to be watched, but none of them is shorter than 30 seconds and each of them only shortens the bag unlock time by fifteen minutes.

Green Gems – My Precious!

You can, of course, use your green gems to unlock bags. Green gems are more valuable than coins and very hard to get without spending real money. If you are planning to take the pay-to-win-easier-or-faster path in Tennis Clash, you’ll be buying green gems.

Here I experienced my third jolt of frustration. Three times in a week of play, those green gems that you work your sock off to earn (or spent your hard-earned cash) – just disappeared!

When I turned to Google to see if I was the only one who experienced this almost game breaking issue, it turned out I wasn’t. I found page after page of rants and complaints.

Think about that for a moment. All the work that you’ve done, all the grind or all the money you’ve invested in the game can be gone in an instant because of a bug. Can you imagine a more frustrating bug? I remember once the game gave me some amount of coins because of an update, but at the same time it just took away all the gems I had. Like my bank, even when Tennis Clash gives, it takes more away.

Frustration Galore

So, let’s summarize. We have a poor (or internationally unbalanced) player matching system, and the fact that some of your, mediocre at best, rivals play like Novak Djokovic in the flesh (is this how Federer felt at the 2019 Wimbledon Final?), even when you outplay them during points. The gems and coins you worked so hard to earn can be gone in a puff and there is also the not so subtle pay-to-win mechanics. You would think that the game has already thrown its best punch on my sanity. You would be wrong.

Tennis Clash Match

When you play a dynamic game like tennis, there will be a lot of left-right running. But when you get to one corner in Tennis Clash, the camera doesn’t zoom out, making it impossible for you to cover the other side of the court with your finger. You have to click on and on to catch that forehand the other player sends to the opposite side of the court. A lot of the times it is a futile effort as you run to the other side very slowly, no matter your speed or stamina levels.

Then you have your disappearing balls. You are in an intense match and in the middle of a rally. Suddenly, while coming towards you, the ball disappears and you are left stranded, losing the point.

I can’t explain in words how very frustrating all this is. Truth be told, the game engine can be really fun and it’s given me some really intense matches and a roller-coaster of emotions. When Tennis Clash works, it can be very compelling. And that just makes its faults that more glaring.

Consistent Inconsistencies

At one moment you swipe, same as you’ve done hundreds of times by now, and you hit the ball low and straight: bang, clean winner. But when you do absolutely the same swipe against a different opponent, the ball goes slow and just wrong. Does that mean that some skill of my opponent determines how my swiping will hit the ball? If yes, why should it?

I also didn’t feel like the game was rewarding enough. You soon lose interest in those bags. I just wanted to play the game and when the frustration reached a point where my hands were going for my hair, a genuine concern for my health made me give the game up.

But maybe I am looking at this from the wrong angle. You see, real tennis can be a very frustrating sport. How many tennis rackets have been broken in a sudden bout of frustration? The way Tennis Clash captures that frustration inherent in tennis is startling. It is so lifelike that if I’ve kept tennis rackets next to me while playing Tennis Clash, those rackets would be no more. Looking at it like that, Tennis Clash is a masterclass in the simulation games genre.

Furthermore, there is one other thing that this game excels at, one special thing that makes it a cult classic.

The Highlight of Tennis Clash

You can now take all the negative things I wrote in this review and throw them out of the window, for there is one act that completely redeems it all – the act of uninstalling Tennis Clash.

The feeling of pure ecstasy I experienced the moment I uninstalled Tennis Clash I would not have imagined possible from a video game. This is a milestone for the video game industry and, at least for me, it instantly ensures a place for Tennis Clash in the annals of gaming history.

I quickly installed the game again, trying to recapture that same sensation of bliss by uninstalling it once more. Sadly, the second attempt did not produce the same level of joy as the first time, but then what does?

Conclusion

I am under no illusion that this review will be read by more than three people, two of them my friends. On the off chance that the third person reading this comes from the developer’s side, I would like to send a message:

“Hey dev, don’t be discouraged by this review. I am hating on your game because I secretly love it. If I didn’t, I would just give it a passing mark in an unmemorable review. If you make a real effort to fix the bugs and inconsistencies, improve the player matching system and lower on the pay-to-win short term greed, Tennis Clash will be more profitable in the long run, be played by more players and take you to even greater projects. It will take work and time, yes, but so does anything worthwhile. Just ditch the marketing guy steering you in the wrong direction.”

Conclusion: To the astute mobile gaming connoisseur, Tennis Clash comes highly recommended, as an exercise in frustration and a most gratifying uninstall.

+ Pros

Fun and intense when it works
Perfectly captures the frustration in tennis
Feels amazing when you finally uninstall it

– Cons

Pay-to-win in all its glory
Frustrating bugs and inconsistencies
Made my hair a lighter shade of gray

Gaming Guide Score

Concept - 2
Gameplay - 8
Graphics & Sound - 6

5.3

Only OK

To the astute mobile gaming connoisseur, Tennis Clash comes highly recommended, both as an exercise in frustration and a most gratifying uninstall.

User Rating: 3.03 ( 19 votes)

About Mike Sheppard

When Mike is not traveling, you can usually find him on his laptop replaying Splinter Cell and Hitman missions for the hundredth time. He wouldn’t touch a strategy with a 10 foot pole, but mobile games are alright, especially while traveling. As a Senior Writer he is part of the Editorial team at Gaming Guide and is also the main reporter.

Check Also

WoW Classic box images

WoW Classic Unboxing: Dive Into a World That’ll Consume Your Soul, Time and Money

World of Warcraft is as famous as any game out there and probably older than …