Tennis in the Face is exactly what you would expect. The objective of this game is to knock out all enemies in each level by hitting them with tennis balls, preferably in the face. Pete Pagassi was once a world famous tennis champion whose career was ruined after becoming addicted to a popular energy drink, Explodz. He is out for revenge and no amount of police, scientists or hipsters will stop him.
This game has a simple concept: aim the tennis ball and hit it. Strategy comes into play when you strive to complete a level without using every ball, rewarding you with a crown. If you strive for high scores, getting head shots, making objects explode and destroying vending machines all award you more points. Both of these are completely optional and serve solely to add more dimension to the game. It employs general physics to guide the ball as it bounces around the level, requiring you to analyze the levels and tweak your aim to get the perfect bounce.
Here's what I liked:
Variety of enemies — There are several different types of enemies as you progress through the game: clowns, hipsters, police, scientists, businessmen and variations of those with shields or other protection. Each one has their own challenges. Police have riot shields that block the first hit unless it comes from behind. The shields also go flying if there is an explosion, making for a handy projectile to take out more enemies. Businessmen carry briefcases that drop when you hit them. If you hit the fallen briefcase, you get bonus points. This variety keeps the game from becoming too repetitive.
Depth of story — Games like these often don't have much of a story. This game, however, has newspaper articles in each new area to give you more story to what Mr. Pagassi is doing. If you want backstory, the website for the game includes more articles and a mini game. There is even a website for the energy drink. The amount of thought that went into this story makes it stand out.
Ragdolls and explosions — Tennis in the Face is fun. This is shown by everything from the colors, character design, explosions and ragdoll animations. Explosions and ragdolls are actually a key component to gameplay, as well. Hitting an enemy can cause him to fall or bounce into another enemy, saving you from using an extra ball. These enemies can also land on cases of Explodz which, unsurprisingly, explode sending them flying even further hitting everything in their path. Seeing how you can use this to your advantage is both challenging and enjoyable.
Here's what I didn't like:
Inconsistent bounces — In a game that revolves around bouncing, it is important to have consistency. In lining up your shot, you can test it out and reset the level if it didn't work. If you reset, you will still be aiming in the same spot. This allows you to slightly adjust your aim one way or the other until you get it just right. However, the bounces can be inconsistent. Aiming at the exact same spot will sometimes result in a different path. In levels where you have more than one challenging angle to calculate, this can create an annoying cycle of resetting.
Tennis in the Face is a great game with hardly any noticeable flaws. It is a great way to kill an hour or a whole day. Playing for the crowns or the high scores keeps it engaging and worth playing more than once. After trying out a demo on their website, I was hesitant about a console version, but I was thrilled to see how smoothly it played. There are many ways to play this game, but if you're like me then you won't move to the next level without the crown. Whatever your play-style is, you will find this game enjoyable, especially with the low price. [Editor's Note: We'd recommend this over its sequel Baseball Riot]
Score: Highly Recommended
Tennis in the Face was developed and published by 10tons Ltd. on Xbox One. It released on December 8, 2016 for $4.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.