Around this time last year, I reviewed Baseball Riot, a fun little independent game from developer 10tons that had you trying to hit people in the head with baseballs. Since then, the studio has released an array of games on Xbox One to increase their already hefty list, including Azkend 2 and King Oddball. Now, they’re back again, and it’s possible that you’ll suffer from a feeling of deja vu when you play Tennis in the Face. With a largely similar premise, look and feel to Baseball Riot, does Tennis in the Face manage to hold its own, or live in the shadow of its predecessor?
In Tennis in the Face, you take on the role of Pete Pagassi, a former tennis world champion whose life has been on a bit of a downward spiral since he was introduced to the Explodz brand energy drink (ring any bells from the first game?). After being admitted to rehab to help his problem, Pete is refreshed and ready to take down Explodz, and all the people involved within the company too, freeing any he believes still remain under the company’s spell. The task at hand comes in the form of putting your tennis skills to the test, and hitting balls into the faces of anyone who dares stand in your way.
Tennis in the Face: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PS Vita, Windows PC, Android, Mac
Release Date: 9 December 2016
Price: £3.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
That is basically the premise of the game, similarly to Baseball Riot, aim a ball, hit a ball and try and knock out as many people in as few as balls as possible. There’s nothing more or less than that on offer here, and the story itself doesn’t really impact the game in any particular way. Even so, that doesn’t stop the game being fun, and you’ll be able to jump right in here. The controls are simplistic, in that you need merely aim and hit the balls, mixed with the skill involved means there’s something on offer here whether you are low or high skill level.
The levels themselves are all similar, a single screen filled with obstacles such a vending machines, metal and wooden planks and glass, scattered around a number of people you have to try and hit in order to complete the level. The difficulty varies, from sometimes being able to see an obvious path or people simply stood in a line, to more awkward levels where you have to bounce off a number of walls and obstacles, causing a domino effect in order to finish the level. The lesser balls you use, the better it is, and using only one or two will net you a crown reward for the level (with each having its own target). This gives you more incentive to complete the level to the best of your ability, and the fact you only have to finish them in order to progress to the next means the game never punishes you for not being perfect.
In addition to the level design becoming increasingly more difficult the further you progress, Tennis in the Face‘s enemies become harder to take down too. You’ll come up against enemies that need a couple of hits to take out or require striking from behind in order to be defeated, which helps to keep the game interesting when the levels become repetitive or frustrating. The mere fact the game is so largely luck based makes it frustrating after a while, and while one shot may hit an enemy, a similar next shot may not, and this is where the game becomes annoying. Tennis in the Face features bonus levels that you’ll come across as you progress, which offer you a break from the more regular levels, including a special level where you can take out the 10tons crew (handy if you are getting a little frustrated at the game and want to let them have it!).
The simple and fun aspect of the game is reflected in how it looks and sounds. Upbeat and bouncy music accompanies a bright and colourful setting, that makes the game aesthetically pleasing for more than one of the senses. The main problem is the game looks and feels pretty much identical to Baseball Riot, which begs the question, did this game really need to be made? Either way, it doesn’t stop the game being a fun few hours for you. Achievement wise, there’s nothing too difficult here, even for those that aren’t particularly skilled at the game. One of the hardest will be for completing the 10tons level, where the balls disappear as soon as they hit someone, as opposed to the usual bouncing about the level.
On the whole, Tennis in the Face is a fun, easy to jump into indie game that offers a decent amount of game time for the surprisingly cheap price of £3.99. On the other hand, the game is so eerily similar to Baseball Riot, that you could easily just play that instead for the same gameplay (essentially) at the same price. It still has the same issues with repetitiveness and frustration when you get stuck on luck based shots in levels. Overall, though, the game offers you a few hours of fun and, let’s face it, when is it not fun to hit people in the face with a tennis ball or two?