Tennis in the Face (10Tons LTD., $4.99) is the first full-contact tennis game for the Switch. This physics-based puzzle game featuring slapstick comedy officially released as of today. So far, the explanation of the game makes it sound pretty fun, right? Why yes, of course, it does! But does the actual gameplay live up to the descriptors used to sell this game? Or is it just far too ridiculous to really work and furthermore, does it actually serve us a challenge? Let’s find out! (Full disclosure, the pictures provided to me show Playstation buttons, but the game looks the same on the Switch except the buttons are obviously different).
I have a game description for you if the title of the game is too confusing!
‘This is no Wimbledon, this is Tennis in the Face! Get ready for some hilarious ragdoll-smashing ball-bouncing action!
Help Pete Pagassi to save the city from an evil energy drink corporation Explodz. Knock out creepy clowns, evil riot police and other Explodz-addicted maniacs with a tennis ball in the face. Bounce the ball off walls to reach targets lurking in cover and watch them tumble hilariously. Trigger masterful chain reactions and watch the chaos unfold. Finally, enjoy the level finale in slow motion!
Tennis in the Face is a hilarious bouncer-game where you save the city from the evil Explodz Inc. with your extraordinary tennis skills. Simply move your finger on the screen, observe the aiming line, and lift your finger to serve a furious tennis smash.’
I have game features as well.
‘The ball bounces off walls and platforms and triggers Explodz-crates, ball tubes, and countless other objects. Your actions will set off chain reactions and you’ll watch the events unfold while knocking out the enemies. The more enemies you knock out with a single serve, the higher your score!
Win levels to move to the next district and towards your ultimate goal: The destruction of Explodz mega-factory. Try to earn a crown from each level and challenge your friends on three different leaderboards.
Join ex-tennis-pro star Pete Pagassi in his quest to save the city from the grasp of Explodz!
- Easy to pick-up bouncer gameplay
- Hilarious ragdoll characters
- Slow motion level finales
- Over 100 levels plus bonus game modes
- A dozen challenging Game Center achievements
- Game Center leaderboards’
And now, you get a trailer to the face!
Audio & Soundtrack:
Alright, first thing’s first. Let’s just go ahead and get the horrible, terrible, no good, very bad soundtrack out of the way. I’m not even being harsh here, that is not an opinion at all. The “music” that plays is more just one song than it is music. When I think of music in a video game I think of several songs. Maybe one song that plays over and over again in one world, but when you get to the next world, you get a new song. Here you get the one song and that’s it buster! After about 10-15 minutes into the game, you begin to realize that even though you’re progressing through the map, you’re not hearing anything new. My guess is that since the game is more of a budget title, they settled on one song and really honed in on it. It’s not a bad song, but any song on repeat for hours on end becomes a bad song. So it was a nice enjoyable song until I realized that it was never-ending. The redeeming factor here is that the game has an option in the menu to turn the music volume up and down respectively. The downside is that the Switch does not currently have a custom soundtracks option (please Nintendo, it would be so easy). If you end up playing the game for yourself, there are other songs in the menus and overworld, but whilst playing the actual levels, you only seem to get the one.
As for the rest of the audio in the game, I absolutely loved it. It’s seriously like night and day between the soundtrack and the sound effects. The few different characters all had their own voice types. There were different objects in every level and each one yielded their own sounds. This ranged from glass shattering, to tennis ball sounds (obviously), explosions, and money sound. I’m sure there were plenty more that I didn’t catch while playing. The developers had a lot of physical movement in this game and it was primarily by inanimate objects clashing with one another. I have to give them props for really to put the extra effort into making certain that everything had a sound. But it was more than that, every sound sounded really right. They had clarity and proper timing to boot. What is even more surprising is that this is a very good sounding game when you’re using your Switch on the go. And I mean that it sounds good even from the Switch’s speakers. I was delightfully surprised that I didn’t have to rely on using headphones or exclusively playing in docked mode to enjoy the title. 7/10
I am simply in love with the art style that the developers went with in this game. I cannot stress enough how much I love 2D games in a day and age where practically every screen is HD. This produces such beautiful quality. It’s almost as if a person drew a picture and it’s sitting right in front of you. And in the case of Tennis to the Face, that holds true. The game looks like a cell-shaded animated TV show. Not to mention that the colors that they chose look great and really stand out. This is true of the background too. If you look at the different screenshots throughout this review, you’ll see what I mean. They just went with solid colors to paint the city that is every level’s backdrop. The results are absolutely unique and almost evoke early 2000’s Cartoon Network shows.
The game also features a very minimalist HUD. You have everything that you need at the bottom of the screen to inform you of your progress. That includes how many tennis balls (or Explodz cans) you have remaining and your current score for that level. You can serve the ball by pressing the A button or reset the level by pressing the Y button. If you press the B button accidentally, you will pull up a pause menu of sorts. I found it to be odd that they added the pause functionality to the B button on top of using the + button. I wish that I could remap the controls in that regard, because when you’re in the moment and you inadvertently press B, it kills the vibe that the game does so well to create. Hopefully that is something that can be patched out or at least let players use the X button to pause. If I were to wager a reason as to why I think they used the B button for pause, it would be for players with smaller hands using the Joy-Cons. But I still think the game should ask for your preference on the face button layout. Or at least add the B button to the bottom of the screen next to where it shows “Serve” and “Restart”. 8/10
Having said that, I do believe that a fair amount of this game is luck. Sure you can aim your ball at the object of your desire, but after that, physics play into everything else. But I’m not saying that luck has everything to do with it or that leaving everything up to physics is bad. On the contrary, I think that just like a casino game, you have challenge and variables to consider, but that’s where the fun comes in. Sometimes you see the expected trajectory and then serve your ball and watch it go around the level destroying what it may. And even though it’s fun to watch or accomplishes a fair amount of destruction, it’s sometimes worth pressing Y to reset and then trying a different angle. The better you do, the better your score, and ultimately you could beat a level flawlessly if executed correctly.
Sometimes the game may feel a little “unfair”, but I assure you that the physics are the same in each and every level. It’s all a matter of looking at the entire design of a level before first serving up your ball. Sometimes, it’s the inverse. Sometimes the level may be so heavy with objects that it’s worth just serving the ball and watching what happens and then resetting and launching the ball a different way. Some levels may be easy to decipher before you ever serve, others require guessing and checking. The fact that the game doesn’t rely on one or the other is just another reason that I love this game. It’s a delightful puzzle game and it’s effectively a perfect purchase for the Switch as it’s a good way to pass time when on the go. 9/10
Replay-ability and Longevity:
This game has a lack of replay-ability by default. But if you play this game in terms of getting some longevity out of it, you shouldn’t really ever worry about replay-ability. One thing I will say that I think this game needs is a custom level creator. One that would allow you to make levels and submit them online like Super Mario Maker. A puzzle game like this lends itself to creativity like that. I’m not saying that it needs to be available straight away either. Having it be an unlockable that shows up after you’ve beaten the game, would be nice. This would help lend a hand to showing players different ways of designing levels. That also requires them to be somewhat decent at the game. That lets players that download said creator’s levels know they’re getting something quasi-playable. A level creator in this game would render it immortal and forever playable.
But enough ranting about what the game doesn’t have. Let’s talk about how to squeeze every last drop of juice out of this game. Every level can be beaten perfectly, achieving a crown for that level. If you don’t get this crown, feel free to play the level again, perfecting your technique. This will be one heck of a good way to get the most out of this game. I did not do that and I beat the game doing the bare minimum and I finished it in 2 hours. The game is just too fun to beat it the way that I did, so go for the crown! Along the way, there was a newspaper in the middle of the map that said “EXTRA!” on it (as newspapers tend to). If you select the newspaper you will be taken to 30 extra levels! Now, the levels don’t count towards anything and they certainly don’t keep track of your scores and they do not have a crown to earn. They’re just 30 free fun extra levels for you to cut your teeth on. There are other extra levels that do keep track of the score for the leaderboards, so definitely do that to extend the life of your game. There are achievements on the board every so often. You’ll see a coin and if you select the coin it will show you 5 achievements that you can get while playing any level. These are great things to try for. The last thing to consider is the fact that there are leaderboards built into this game for various things. There are a few levels where you can simply hit your tennis ball into the wild blue yonder and collect coins. It’s sort of like the Coin Rush mode in New Super Mario Bros 2. and the scores for that are also saved to the leaderboards.
All in all, this game, if played the longer and more fun way, will last you a while. A lot longer than my 2 hour speed run of the game. This is something you can of course play again and again, and since it’s on the Switch, that makes it easier to do. The downside to playing a game repeatedly is how you’ll probably begin to memorize it, thus losing its appeal.
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