Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Puzzles & Sports
Release Date: 8th of December, 2017 (EU & NA)
Have you ever wanted to play a game that rewards you for smacking people in the face with tennis balls? If yes, then you might want to give Tennis in the Face a go. The latest physics-based puzzler from 10tons to hit the Switch after King Oddball.
Tennis in the Face! places you in control of Pete Pagassi (sound familiar, tennis fans?), an ex-professional tennis star who ruined his career via the consumption of Explodz – a powerful energy drink. To get his career back on track, and to take out the evil mega-corporation that has the whole world hooked on its demon juice, you smash serves of tennis balls (and later, cans of Explodz) at the likes of clowns, hipsters and businessmen. The gameplay is simple. In each stage, Pagassi is in a fixed position, and you move his line of sight to where you want to serve your little fuzzy tennis balls. It’s more forgiving than King Oddball, and you’ll find your tennis balls bouncing across the stage long after it leaves your racket.
It’s easy to see directly where your tennis ball will go, and you can guess where it will end up after bouncing off of obstacles, enemies and the like. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’ve achieved a level by plain dumb luck, but this isn’t a bad thing. Your tennis ball will keep on going for a long time, and enemies will hilariously fall into each other after a successful hit – the ragdoll physics are a laugh throughout. Some stages might well have you scratching your head, especially if you’re attempting to earn a crown on each of the 100+ stages. To earn a crown, you have to beat each stage with tennis balls (or cans of Explodz) remaining – each stage will tell you the requirements to do so.
It can be tricky to beat a stage and earn a crown when you’ve got tonnes of enemies on screen surrounding by obstacles such as glass (which destroys along with a tennis ball), walls and balloons. You’ll be laughing if you ace a stage first time on your first ball, which is something that can happen with good luck. The stages where you are equipped with both tennis balls and cans of Explodz are the best of the lot. They are typically larger, with more obstacles present and thought required to succeed rather than dumb luck. A can of Explodz is far heavier than a tennis ball and explodes after a second or two, causing damage in the surrounding area. As they are heavier (and larger) than a tennis ball, the cans of Explodz arc down after being hit up. Again, you are given a line of sight giving you a good idea of where your weapon will land, but remember that the can is large and will hit walls and obstacles sooner than you might think.
10tons latest Switch puzzler is fun, bright and breezy, with a low boundary of skill needed to finish the thing (which is great news for younger children), but it is also very small. Despite the slightly increased difficulty of the later stages, I finished the story after just 55 minutes. Because there is little challenge in the title, you will be done with it very soon. Far sooner than King Oddball. There are leaderboards, crowns and bonus stages to serve your way through, but honestly, you likely won’t be picking the game up again after finishing the bright and breezy story.
You likely won’t be coming back to the game that often based on its looks, either. Tennis in the Face! looks very basic, and sounds it too. It won’t be winning any awards in the design department, but it does its job well enough and the art-style is somewhat reminiscent of the Cartoon Network shows of your youth. The game is geared towards children, however, so you can forgive its basic, bright and colourful presentation as well as its generally easy gameplay. What’s nice is that there is no difference in performance between docked and handheld, with added touch-screen controls when played out and about (I preferred the traditional controls, but the option to play with just your fingers is a nice one).
The biggest issue of the game is the overall lack of challenge on offer. It lessens the replay value and addictive side of what could be a great puzzle formula. You likely won’t find yourself hooked by Tennis in the Face! and you won’t find the hours crumbling away in the background without you noticing. It is silly, fun and harmless, but not anything special or particularly memorable. While seeing ragdoll clowns fly across the screen might not get old, Tennis in the Face! doesn’t have the staying power of other puzzle titles on the Switch. It’s not a double fault, but it’s definitely no ace.
Not as addictive or long-lasting as Wimbledon, Tennis in the Face! is a decent little puzzle game, but it won’t hold your attention for long. The battle against Explodz is a short one, and the lack of overall challenge won’t be bringing you back for more after the game ends, but it is entertaining enough while it lasts and seeing ragdoll hipsters lose their coffee in slow-motion after being smashed in the face by a tennis ball will always be funny.
THE VERDICT: 6/10
*Review Key Provided by 10tons
This post was written by Toby Saunders