Tennis in the Face Review – Lobbed Over the Net (PS Vita)
Late last year, I picked up a weird game called King Oddball; a physics-based puzzle game similar to Angry Birds, but without the disgusting over-saturation that followed. King Oddball had a style all of its own, and while not the deepest game you could spend a few hours playing, it was certainly enjoyable to play through. So when I was tossed another game from developer 10ton Ltd., I was eager to see what they had in store.
Tennis in the Face may sound a bit obscure, but it is very familiar territory for a lot of gamers. The game centers around a down-and-out tennis player, Pete Pagassi, who is struggling with drug addiction. His poison of choice was an energy drink called Explodz, which had subsequently taken the world by storm. Determined, Pagassi wants to take down the energy drink empire any way he can, even if it means assaulting every cop, suit, and hipster in his path.
Like King Oddball, Angry Birds, and numerous other physics-based puzzlers out there, Tennis in the Face has a familiar formula. In each level, you have a set number of tries to take down any of the dirty stereotypes that stand between you and victory. While your ammo may vary in type and quantity (mostly a few tennis balls, with the occasional Explodz explosive thrown in for good measure), you’ll have to approach each level from a tactical perspective in order to rack up a new high score.
You have direct control over aiming, giving you guidelines over your initial shot. Once launched, the ball will bounce off of most objects numerous times before poofing out of reality. The previous shot remains on the screen for a bit, showing you where there was a point of collision and where the ball went after that. If you don’t use all of your shots, you can earn extra points on the leaderboards as well as a fancy crown to let you know that you’ve been playing this game way too much. Maximizing the amount of carnage on screen as you run up your score makes it all that more rewarding for focused players.
Game by Numbers
Lining up your shots on the PlayStation Vita can be done via the analog stick or on the glorious OLED touchscreen (or LED for you new Vita owners). The analog stick gives you a cursor to place exactly where you want the ball to go from the get go, making it easy to line up the shot. The touchscreen method lets you tap or run your finger to the right spot, sending the tennis ball hurtling toward the location as soon as your finger lifts from the screen. I found the touch screen controls less desirable in comparison because it was harder to have a consistent shot. While it might not matter for most levels, there were plenty of instances where being a few pixels off meant the difference between taking out a hipster hoard or whiffing a shot completely.
Tennis in the Face doesn’t take itself seriously, nor should it. After all, we’re talking about a game where the main attraction is causing mayhem and seeing people knocked out, rag-dolling around the screen. The environments are simple, as is the art, all of which is well drawn but not overly detailed. It pulls inspiration from old films, sports history, and a lot of common stereotypes that most people will connect with instantly.
The way in which 10ton Ltd. presents the world of Tennis in the Face is one that is familiar yet droll. When a cop is knocked down, he will spill his box of doughnuts, causing the delightful pastries to sprinkle across the screen. Hipsters will be sure to tell you that they wore shorts before it was cool. All of their jokes are safe, easy to understand, and incredibly hackneyed. Humor is the least interesting aspect of the game; by comparison, the jokes in King Oddball were bizarre and they complemented the fantastic visual filter that summoned the look of a 1950s invasion film. No matter how obscure or mainstream a gag is, Tennis in the Face never mustered up an interesting set piece or joke that truly resonated or stood out.
For the low price of $5 (or less than a buck during the latest Flash Sale), you, yes you, can be the proud new owner of Tennis in the Face. For a mobile port across numerous platforms, it serves as a decent offering for anyone looking to unwind at the end of the day, reliving tired jokes and simple gameplay. There are plenty of levels to dive into and certainly a challenge here or there but it never becomes anything deeper than a typical phone game. Tennis in the Face is far from a grand slam, but at the right sale price, it might be worth stepping on the court.
Tennis in the Face review code provided by publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.