Pete Pagassi doesn’t play professionally anymore. When his career went downhill, Pete turned to the addictive energy drink called Explodz, after getting into trouble, Pete set about turning his life around. It doesn’t help when the whole world is addicted to Explodz though, so naturally Pete’s solution is to play Tennis in their Faces.
Tennis in the Face is a physics puzzler where you control Pete in his tennis attire as he takes aim and serves a smash at anyone nearby. The world is addicted, so Pete’s attempt to rid society of the Explodz energy drink means he’s got quite a few angry people chasing after him.
Starting off with clowns, these happy chappies obviously need a bit of energy for all that running around and falling over. So Pete takes aim and attempts to knock each one down, with as few tennis balls as possible.
Hitting an obstacle will rebound the tennis ball, but if you strike an enemy, the ball continues on its path, this means you can easily take down 2, 3 or more targets with a single shot. Many levels are set up to challenge your carbon footprint by trying to ensure you’re wasting as few balls as possible by rewarding you more stars dependent on how well you clear the level.
The map shows each level split up into an area, with 9 areas in total, each split into 16 spaces. There’s many resemblances to the King Oddball set-up where some of these spaces are occupied by a level, while others are blank and some feature a message or unlock, such as using a can of Explodz instead of a tennis ball, because sometimes it’s better when things explode.
In total there’s over 120 levels and 24 of those are new and exclusive to the Xbox One version.
This means there’s quite a few to get through, and while some might only take a few seconds to complete, others will leave you stumped for much longer as you battle to take down each of your targets–whether they be clowns, police officers or business men. Usually you can breeze through the task at hand by using 2 or 3 balls (especially during the first half of the game). However you’ll soon need to head back to claim a few extra stars to advance to the next area, so it’s worth taking your time to retry when you get that inevitable feeling of under achieving.
Graphically, Tennis in the Face relies on cartoon style drawings, minimal animation and simple colours. There’s enough detail where it’s required, and some levels are packed with obstacles such as glass panels or barrels. These are carefully placed, meaning misses will make life difficult, but learning how the ball reacts with each is an important part of the game. A single ball in the right place can sometimes create a chain of events that will take down hard to reach enemies far easier than a second or third shot could.
Together with the colourful art-style, each area is populated by a new enemy, with the first being clowns which are fairly easy to take down with a single shot. Moving on to the Police, some hold riot shields will deflect a ball in the wrong position. Thanks to the clarity of the aesthetics, these are always easy to spot, and the challenge is nearly always working out how to do it, and not what to do.
Sadly there is some repetition, level layouts feel a little too familiar throughout and changing the enemies and the colour of the background only goes so far to make the next area feel fresh and appealing.
Sound effects often fall into the same ball bag, with only so many crashes, bangs and oomph’s allowed before it feels familiar. Credit has to go to the catchy soundtrack that plays along throughout and while there’s not much in the way of special effects either graphically or with the audio, it’s still not a poor performance either side.
Moving on and the longevity of Tennis in the Face is the deciding factor, the value is never in doubt because Tennis in the Face will cost only $4.99 (We expect that to be around £4) but how quickly will you tire of smashing tennis balls around the screen?
It’s worth taking note of the mobile market, where similar games populate our mobile phone screens and provide entertainment for many millions worldwide and even see multiple releases of the same franchise, with that in mind, sure you’ll get a little tired of seeing yet another clown, but with each new enemy comes a slightly new challenge and 10-15 levels per area doesn’t feel excessive, instead it’s just about right.