Review: Tennis in the Face (Playstation 4)

Tennis in the FaceTennis in the Face
Publisher: 10tons Ltd
Developer: 10tons Ltd
Genre: Arcade
Release Date: 12/09/2014

There are a lot of games out there that offer up false advertising, but Tennis in the Face is not one of these games. It does exactly what you would think it does from the title: allows you to hit people with tennis balls. In the face. This Angry Birds-esque video game has a simple premise: you are a washed out tennis player (Pete Pagassi) who is completely addicted to the energy drink known as Explodz, which, incidentally, you can use as a weapon during the game. As is the case with most games similar to Angry Birds, your job as Pete is to angle your shots well in order to hit your enemies–cops, hipsters, scientists, and others–preferably, in the face. (You actually get bonus points for that.) Because you’re using a tennis ball most of the time, the your shots will bounce off of walls and arc just as you would expect a tennis ball to do, which makes for kind of (enjoyable) mind-numbing experience as you watch the ball go across the screen. Explodz work a bit differently, as they’re heavier and explode after three or so bounces; you can think of them like grenades, if you’d like, though the analogy isn’t perfect.

Tennis in the FaceThere are 8 areas in the game, each with 13 stages. For each stage, you will have a chance to earn a crown by completing it using the minimum number of tennis balls. You can unlock new areas by beating a certain number of stages in the area you’re currently in. The game ramps up in difficulty, and occasionally you feel like you’re just hitting the ball in random directions hoping for something to stick, but I never felt like it was leaving me behind. The team did a good job of putting together different terrain in each area, making it feel less same-y as you continue through the game. You’ll generally want to avoid glass, for example, as your ball will break if you hit it, but sometimes you’ll want to use that to your advantage. Scrap metal is heavy and hard to move. Crates of Explodz lay around for you to use as explosives. Tubes of tennis balls are strategically placed; hit them and more tennis balls will shoot out, hopefully getting rid of enemies or putting other parts of the stage into motion.

Tennis in the FaceVisually, the game is appealing, with its bright colors and simple layout. The character designs are both amusing and functional; for example, cops come with riot gear that makes them harder to knock over. The rag doll appearance of knocked over enemies is also amusing. The backgrounds for the levels are simple but appealing, the user interface is easy to use (with the sole exception of when you’re choosing a stage, which can be frustrating and is definitely geared toward mobile gaming), and in general the game is able to keep my attention. My only complaint is that the music gets incredibly repetitive after about 15 minutes or so, making me less likely to continue playing for long stretches of time. I will also say that the game does feel more like a mobile game (and you can get it on your smartphone) than a Playstation 4 game, and if I’m going to play a PS4 game, it’s probably not going to be this, regardless of how fun it is. Still, it’s a fun game to play in short spurts, and the ability to see where you are on leaderboards and earn trophies will be appealing to many.

Tennis in the FaceTennis in the Face is a pretty amusing game to play for short periods of time and feels a lot more fair than many other Angry Birds-type games, though it’s not without its issues. I don’t know that this will replace Angry Birds, but it does offer the same type of gameplay in a fairly fresh format. There are definitely enough levels to keep you busy, and replaying the levels for maximum points/to earn a crown is also an enjoyable experience. While it does feel a bit out of place on the Playstation 4, I don’t think it not being on smartphones or tablets detracts from the experience as much as it could have. It’s only $5 on PSN, so if you’re into this type of game, I think it’s well worth getting.

Short Attention Span Summary
Tennis in the Face is basically a quirky Angry Birds, but don’t let that sell the game short. It’s hilarious as a concept and is executed pretty well in terms of difficulty. Other than the soundtrack, which gets annoying after about 15 minutes, the game looks good and works well. If you’re not completely tired of this concept for a game and would prefer to play this on something other than a mobile device or a tablet, it’s only $5 on PSN. And really, when you get down to it, there’s just something really funny about hitting imaginary hipsters in the face with tennis balls.