During the OC5 day one keynote, I was most excited to see Superhot VR confirmed for the Oculus Quest. When I played it, I was blown away and honestly felt like it was the ideal way to play the game going forward. But what I didn’t expect is to also really, really enjoy Tennis Scramble. So much so in fact, I think it’s the only one of the four Quest demos that I’m tempted to go wait in the non-press line for just so I can try it again against someone else. Competitive multiplayer has that effect on me sometimes. Dead and Buried in a 4,000 square foot arena with six Quest headsets gave me a similar feeling.
It’s a simple demo, nothing special really. On paper, it’s not impressive sounding at all. Tennis Scramble is basically Wii Sports Tennis — you’ve got similarly legless cartoon-style avatars, there’s a lot of whimsy in the style and tone, and it’s got tons of bright colors. But it’s in VR, it’s untethered, and it’s got full 6DOF tracking which changes everything.
Other than not holding a real racket (that could be resolved with some plastic accessories) and not hitting a real ball (a minor loss by comparison) I may as well have been playing real tennis. During the Tennis Scramble demo I was running from side to side on my end of the court, returning balls, and building up volleys with my opponent.
I had to turn my body for backhand shots and actually jog over to the ball on several occasions. People liked to compare Wii Sports to real tennis, but for all intents and purposes, this was actually quite close.
Now the major caveat here is that this is an accessible arcade-style game, not a sport simulation, so take that comparison with a grain of salt. There are lots of little Mario Tennis-style flourishes in Tennis Scramble as well. During the match power ups would pop up over the net at the center of the court and when I hit them with the ball they’d do things like change my opponent’s racket size, change the ball size, or even raise the net higher.
Tracking worked great as well. Even if I was looking down court and swinging to my side, the headset’s cameras didn’t lose track of my controllers. This is because even if I can’t see my hands in VR because of the limited field of view, the cameras on the outside of the headset still can since there are four in the corners of the device. It can see a lot more than my eyes can inside the headset, so I don’t even notice the loss of tracking if it ever occurred.
— Upload (@UploadVR) September 26, 2018
Although Tennis Scramble isn’t a system-seller on its own, a pack-in collection of small, simple sports games would be an excellent bundled title for Oculus Quest. I had a lot of fun, smiled while playing, and seriously want to jump back in there to try my hand at it once again.
Tennis Scramble (we think this is still a WIP title because the booth technically said “Project Tennis Scramble”) is expected to be a launch title for the Oculus Quest when it releases next year in Spring 2019. For more details on what we thought of the Quest itself, read our hands-on impressions. Let us know what you think down in the comments below!