Hipsters, Clowns, and Scientists Oh My!
By Richard Jewell
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on December 9th, 2016 on Xbox One
Developer: 10tons Ltd. Publisher: 10tons Ltd.
Alright, let’s get down to business. Do you like tennis? Do you like balls? In the face?!? Actually, wait a minute. Don’t answer that. I think I’ll take the high road and leave that joke alone. Let’s try this again. Do you like the thought of a disgruntled ex-professional tennis player stickin’ it to the man by rampaging through the city, taking out every energy drink addict and corrupt businessman in his path? If so, then boy do I have a game for you! Tennis in the Face is a physics based puzzle game where the goal is to take out all the enemies in the level with the limited number of balls at your disposal. The gameplay will feel a little familiar to those of you familiar with the Angry Birds series.
Tennis in the Face is the prequel to a previous game from 10tons, Baseball Riot and stars former professional tennis player Pete Pagassi. Having lost his career due to an addiction to a mega-popular energy drink called Explodz, Pagassi enters rehab to clean up his act. Once rehabilitated, Pagassi vows to destroy Explodz and free the city from its vile influence. Sticking with what he knows best, he grabs his trusty tennis racket and gets down to business by applying balls to faces. To get to the Explodz factory, he will need to do battle a variety of enemies throughout over a hundred levels across 8 city districts.
The game has a simple flow to it. In the beginning, only the first district is accessible. To unlock another district you must first clear most of the levels to unlock the metro that will take you to the next district. All that is required to complete a level is to wipe out all the bad guys before you run out of balls. Tennis balls bounce off of walls and most objects, so trick shots are the name of the game here. Most levels will require you to take out multiple people with a single ball so learning the physics is a must. In some levels, aside from regular tennis balls, you can shoot a can of Explodz, which acts more like a grenade in the way that you lob it and it blows up in a few seconds, instead of ricocheting off the walls. If you want to earn a crown for the level, you must take out the enemies with balls to spare, the amount needed varies with each stage. Earning crowns and finishing levels with spare balls can unlock special challenges for you to complete, such as a bonus stage where you see how many coins you can collect with a limited number of balls. The game also tracks your high score per stage, so you can compete with yourself if that’s your kind of thing. Nailing enemies in the head will net you a headshot bonus because they don’t call it Tennis in the Face for nothing!
Now it’s time to get to know the unlucky people standing between Pete and his mission of vengeance. Explodz addicted clowns, businessmen, and hipsters are basic enemies who can be easily taken out with minimal effort. Who you need to watch out for are the others. Corrupt cops in riot gear come prepared with a shield that breaks after taking one hit, the best thing to do is hit them from behind. Wolfspirit Bros are basically Dungeons and Dragons nerds hopped up on Explodz. They also have shields. However, their shields cannot be destroyed and they deflect the tennis balls, they also require a cheap shot from behind to knock them out. Scientists are the worst. They wear full hazmat suits that fully protect them, so they require one hit to destroy the suit, and another to take them out of action completely. Expodz junkies are not the only thing you need to worry about!
While some levels are pretty straightforward, some are full of obstacles and debris that can either help you or hamper you. Glass panes are my personal pet peeve. They shatter after one hit but destroys your ball in the process instead of letting it bounce around some more. Pieces of junk are unbreakable, and also destroy your ball when hit. Another thing to keep an eye out for are the wooden planks. They can be moved when hit and they deflect your ball like normal walls do. Sometimes the objects I have just mentioned can be manipulated into taking out multiple enemies by causing chain reactions, for example; breaking a piece of glass that is full of junk, which then falls down on top of a group of clowns, taking them all out. Causing chain reactions like that is crucial for saving your balls (teehee) and earning crowns.
The graphic style is nice and goofy, with funny looking characters that just cry out “smash me in the face!” The sound effects, whether it be the nervous heartbeat of Pete when he launches his last ball or the hilarious noises his enemies make when knocked around, are pretty enjoyable. Unfortunately, while the background music works well enough for the game in the beginning, it is a bit limited. A little more variety here would have been good. Overall, Tennis in the Face is a good game for a quick pick up and play, though the mileage may vary depending on the person. You can tell by games like this that 10tons loves what it does, and I hope to see more from them in the future.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for purpose of the review.
Final Score: 6/10
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