Cheaty Tennis For More Than Two: Tennnes

The extra N is for all the times you'll cry 'Nnnoooo!'

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

Here are those nice Idle Thumbs boys getting to grips with Tennnes a few years back:


  1. MrFinnishDude says:

    If cheating is an integral part of a game, is it still cheating?

  2. Garou says:

    In the video, the scoring is different to tennis. It is ordered by player position, rather than by who is serving. This is obviously one of the smaller differences, but for some reason it annoys me.

    Game looks fun though.

  3. paranoydandroyd says:

    Tennes looks amazing. Kinda reminds me of Niddhog.

    Also, saying “the hoi paloi” is like saying “ATM machine” or “PIN number.” For whatever that’s worth. Which isn’t much.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      The Chicago Manual of Style is fine with “the hoi polloi”, as modern culture is so far past the Greek root meaning anything to most people. The Guardian uses it too, though I realise that’s somewhat less impressive a name to throw around during talk of correctness.

      • Monggerel says:

        I jest call ’em peasants.
        How appropriate that I grew up driving tractors and tiny ancient motorbikes.

      • Geebs says:

        What about modern Greek culture?

      • frogulox says:

        Is it not the same anyway? The issue with pin number and atm machine being an expansion of the already shortened. I dont know greek of latin characters or origins though and a brief search didnt show me how hoi palloi is the same thing. Happy to be educated though, regardless of current usage.

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      particlese says:

      I’m really pleased with this game now since:
      -it just sounds amazing
      -with this article and these posts, I gained a new phrase and an arguable excuse to smile if someone else uses it
      -I discovered a previously-hidden pun in Caddyshack due to the same

    • Geebs says:

      Or the band “the The”

  4. Beard_Arthur says:

    Looks REALLY fun, but I can’t justify the $20 for it. I almost did a double-take when I saw the price tag.

  5. Zankman says:

    Looks really fun, but, for 20$?

    No Online MP, which I always cite as the make-or-break feature?


  6. hjd_uk says:

    Pricey. ( first random game i thought of ) Don’t Starve is cheaper than that (on Steam).
    The name is annoying too :) Needs a hyphon. I can’t see anythign but “Tens” but with loads of emphasis on the ‘n’s.

  7. elderman says:

    I can’t find any indication of what system the game will work on. Usually that means Windows only, but sometimes a thing runs in an interpreter that operates cross-platform.

    It’d would be nice to have a Linux version.

  8. Brumisator says:

    Uhmm…this is pong. How is nobody noticing that this is pong? Oh but you can move all around the place, you say? Well so could you in dozens of pong games in the 1970s.

    I’m supposed to pay 20 dollars for pong? What the f*pong*?

    • Alan Hazelden says:

      This really isn’t Pong. You should convince a less-judgemental friend to get it and play it with you, and then maybe you’ll understand the difference.

    • HilariousCow says:

      It’s a hell of a lot better than pong.

      You’re probably thinking “the emperor has no clothes” on this one. And I’d understand why if you only experienced it as a screen shot or videos. But as alan says, you get in the right mind set for this, and it’s up there with samurai gunn for an enjoyable local multiplayer time. The controls allow real finesse. The willingness to bend the rules allow for strategies that i won’t go into, because in this case, they’re practically spoilers… not figuring them out for yourself would remove the exploratory joy of playing it.

      No comment on the pricing. I just find that interesting, and not unjustified from some perspectives. I bought it because I had already played the alpha, and fell in love with the feel of it.