A very cool and exciting thing happened in indie games in 2011. Unfortunately for most, it was largely confined to far-away events, people’s friend’s houses, pubs, bars, and other dark rooms. Oh, but what wonderful games the local multiplayer minimalist sports game craze brought! Hokra, Tennnes, and others inspired by these that I saw in aforementioned dark rooms, demoed on laptops and shown in videos on phones, and whose names I’ve forgotten. Some are finally coming to light.
Minimalist arcade tennis Tennnes launched for the hoi polloi yesterday, with a pricing model as quirky as its fondness for N. It costs $20 (£12.50), but you’re allowed to give it to yer pals for free.
Created by Jan Willem Nijman, who you might know as one half of the mighty Vlambeer, Tennnes looks like super simple tennis but becomes so complex by allowing an awful lot of cheating. You can serve the ball then run up and hit it again, for example, or scamper on over to the other side of the net to cause trouble and confusion.
Don’t read my guff though, here’s how top game man Bennett Foddy explained it when offering Tennnes as a bonus for the Sportsfriends Kickstarter (Sportfriends — that’s another with several 2011 local multiplayer sporting champs, and also due this year):
It’s almost as visually minimalistic as Pong, and it has very simple pick-up-and-play controls like Virtua Tennis, but it’s tactically much deeper than either of those games. It lets you take wild liberties with the rules – for example, you can lob the ball out of court, then catch up to it and hit it back in. You can run around the net and hit the other guy’s ball before he can serve it, causing him to fault. Forget serve-and-volley: you can run up to the net and *jump it*, bringing the game to the other player. Somehow JW managed to balance the game so that no matter how much you break the rules, the game stays balanced and incredibly competitive.
It really is quite delightful. Gather a few friends, pool a few dollars, and grab it on itch.io.
Here are those nice Idle Thumbs boys getting to grips with Tennnes a few years back: