Tennis players are generally angrier than birds so a game like Tennis in the Face makes a lot of sense. This game will have you aiming and whacking tennis balls at plenty of deserving buffoons while making you grin from ear to ear.
Tennis in the Face's plot revolves around Pete Pagassi who unfortunately becomes addicted to an energy drink called Explodz. This addiction eventually leads to the downfall of his career. Logically, he seeks revenge on the Explodz corporation using the only way he knows how; by smacking tennis balls into the faces of its many employees.
You play the game by lining up a serve using an intuitive aiming reticle that also shows the trajectory, then pushing a button to send a tennis ball soaring as it bounces off walls while its momentum eventually depletes. Your goal is to take out as many people as you can with each ball. You will encounter multiple hazards that will stop your ball in its tracks so the keys to success are accuracy and efficiency. As you progress in the game, you will be given energy drinks as well as tennis balls to hit. This adds some diversity to the gameplay since their paths are more arched and they explode after landing. The controls are as simple as you would expect. Besides aiming and serving, you can also tap a button to start the level over again which is very convenient for those who obsessively strive for perfection. Everything works intuitively so you can easily focus on the fun.
The graphics are cartoony and simplistic. Characters appear silly as they look annoyed and flop around after being hit. Objects are easily distinguishable and the elementary backgrounds contrast well with the more complex foregrounds. This visual clarity helps make the game as enjoyable as possible. The soundtrack consists of funky jams which suit the absurdity of the premise quite nicely. Sound effects add some silliness to the audio although they aren't as satisfying as you would expect in a game like this. Enemies will react with grunts when they get hit but there is a delay which makes it far less immediately gratifying. Most effects are simply too quiet to be satisfying. When explosives go off or glass breaks, you would expect loud sounds to be triggered but all you're given are generic and muted bangs.
Explodz employs an odd assortment of goons that range from clowns to police to hipsters. Some enemies require two hits to take down while others hold a shield. When enemies collapse, their bodies become ragdolls as they flop around and fall onto other enemies which is enough to snuff them out as well. Events such as this combined with level objects such as explosives and tennis ball containers (which send more balls out when hit) make each serve you perform a potential chain-reaction disaster for everyone. This trial-and-error approach feels great when you are successful although it becomes repetitive quickly when you can't quite get into the swing of things. Even the most advanced players will get into slumps of retrying again and again from time to time.
Scoring in Tennis in the Face is unique. You will be rewarded for causing more damage with a single serve than with multiple serves. Therefore, you must make sure each serve causes as much damage as possible. Each level allocates a certain amount of balls to be used and if you don't use all of them then the remainder gets added to your total. Your overall score is a combination of your total score and remaining balls which are converted to points. This will make you want to replay levels over and over again to get the highest possible score so you can climb the leaderboards. It's truly one of the most satisfying scoring systems that I have ever come across.
Tennis in the Face features a very cool nonlinear overworld map that's broken up into 8 sections with 16 squares in each. Most squares pertain to individual levels while others consist of various bonuses and features. Progression is made by beating a certain number of levels to unlock the metro station that links to the next section. Exploring the map is a rewarding experience as you will come across many fun unlockables for your efforts. Various minigames such as collecting coins and taking on tournaments are a fun distraction to the main game. This being said, there is little variety among the levels that the game offers. In the end, different enemy types and stage layouts don't feel like enough. It would have been beneficial to include mechanics such as power-ups, upgrades, boss fights, and the like to make the game feel more complete. Don't get me wrong, you will have fun but the fun isn't as varied as you would hope.
If you're looking for a simple game that will tempt you to keep beating your scores then Tennis in the Face is definitely a satisfying and enjoyable experience. However, if the idea of unvaried simplistic gameplay and trial-and-error mechanics turn you off then you should give this ball-smacking journey a pass.
- + Hitting people with tennis balls is fun
- + Interesting score mechanics will make you want to keep replaying levels
- + Nonlinear map is rewarding to explore
- - The trial-and-error element has a tendency to become repetitive at times
- - Simplistic gameplay could use more variety
- - Sound effects are unsatisfying