There are those indie developers who create truly unique experiences on the PlayStation and some who are able to consistently push out new games every few months with the same level of quality and fun. One such developer is 10tons. Since the launch of the PlayStation 4 last year, they’ve already release 3 games – King Oddball, Sparkle 2, and Crimsonland. Now they have a 4th called Tennis in the Face. Like King Oddball, this is an offbeat game that mixes a quirky story with solid gameplay mechanics. Tennis in the Face stars ex-tennis champion Pete Pagassi who’s career was ruined by evil energy drink corporation, Explodz. Pete is on a mission to take down Explodz while defeating creepy clowns, evil riot police and other Explodz-addicted maniacs who get in his way using his trusted racket and tennis ball.
Tennis in the face has much in common with 10tons previous game, King Oddball as well as games like Angry Birds. It’s a physics based game where you must hit balls at your targets to make them fall. Like King Oddball and unlike Angry Birds, balls that hit their target continue to move around the screen and they will bounce all around the screen hitting other targets until they finally lose momentum and stop bouncing. That means its possible to hit all the targets on a level with just one ball. This is actually what you’ll want to aim for as hitting all targets on the first shot usually means you’ll get the coveted golden crown for that level. This is the highest honor one can achieve per level.
There are a lot of level in Tennis in the Face with many of them grouped off into specific regions with their own set of enemies. Enemies types vary wildly and consist of some rather wacky types. Enemies however don’t fight back and just stand there waiting for you to hit them. While each of the levels presented in the game are challenging, most require some amount of skill to calculate angle of bounces and what not, other levels just feel like they require more luck than actual skill. In fact, there will be times when you beat a level based on sheer luck than you actually calculating how the bounces will affect trajectory.
Still, it’s a very fun game that is very different from much of what you’ll find on the PS4.
If you’ve played King Oddball before, Tennis to the Face will seem quite familiar. The menu screen and level select screens look a lot like they do in King Oddball and even the way you select which levels to play are similar. What is not similar though is the art style in which case Tennis to the Face is a lot more colorful and fun. There are wacky character designs and when they get hit, the ragdoll physics offer up some humorous falls.
Level designs too are pretty well done ranging from easy to the ridiculously hard. Again, it’s all pretty colorful but overall, everything about the game screams fun. I like that the art direction doesn’t take itself too seriously and that the developer chose to go the wacky route.
Tennis in the Face isn’t for everyone. I know there are many of those out there who don’t think indie games have a place on home gaming machines, but those are the people who I feel aren’t true gamers. Tennis in the Face is exactly the type of game that belongs on a home gaming machine because it allows us to play games we wouldn’t normally play, especially for those who don’t have expensive PC setups. It’s a wacky game that helps break up the endless number of shooters we get on gaming consoles and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
For those who do decide to try Tennis in the Face, you’ll find a game that is quite challenging and fun. Like most physics based games of this type however, you’ll find that the gameplay can be a bit repetitive, but that’s why I suggest playing the game in short sessions and not try to play the whole thing as a marathon. This way, the game doesn’t feel repetitive at all so you’ll just be playing a few levels at a time per session. That’s not to say you can’t play it as a long marathon run but for me, it’s just too much to do in one sitting. I find that games like this are more enjoyable in short sessions, especially when I want to play something short and quick while I’m waiting around, either for my friends to get online or if I’m trying to kill some time.
Overall, I think most gamers who are open to something new will enjoy Tennis in the Face. You’ll enjoy the gameplay, the graphical presentation, and the wackiness of it all.
Review code provided to us by the publisher/developer.