With a title like “Tennis in the Face,” you know a game doesn’t want to be taken too seriously. With its cartoonish graphics and pick-up-and-play controls, Tennis in the Face is not going to fool you into thinking it’s anything more than it is: a simple, angle shooter game in the vein of “Angry Birds.” Its aim is to distract you, not consume you, and with that mission in mind, it is likely to succeed.
You play as a disgraced tennis pro named Pete Pagassi, fresh out of rehab for an energy drink called Explodz and seeking revenge from the evil corporation peddling the carbonated, caffeinated toxin. In his quest, Pagassi will use his racket to serve a bunch of fuzzy yellow balls right at a variety of enemies: corporate suits, hipster, clowns—you know, lots of things with faces. As you advance though the games 100+ levels, you must manage your tennis balls and explosive energy drinks wisely, as you aim your serves through narrow passages and plan ahead for elaborate ricochet shots to eliminate your targets and advance through the games different areas. As you do, you must navigate more obstacles, from vending machines that can take a beating but really improve your overall score, to glass and scrap heaps that end your balls’ bouncing too soon.
The concept isn’t complicated, and you will soon be acing levels in no time—which is sort of a drawback of the game. While some of the later levels present a nominal challenge, even halfway through the game’s missions I found myself getting a one serve win by vaguely aiming at a group of opponents and counting on my weapon’s generous bounces to see me through. All of the levels are enclosed, which means it’s fairly easy to let your serves go for quite a while, ending the round on a lucky bounce. Earning that kind of photo finish with a single serve can be pretty cool if you work at it, but it happens often enough to make many levels feel like they were more cobbled together than painstakingly designed.
Although I reviewed the PlayStation 4 version of Tennis in the Face, the hardware seems like enormous overkill. The game was clearly designed for touch and mobile devices, and booting up the black beauty to play on the big screen a game that looks more at home in a browser window is completely unnecessary—even if it does make excellent use of the touchpad on the DualShock 4. It’s possible I may have enjoyed the game more on another platform, as the levels were clearly designed for short bursts of entertainment. As reviewed, however, Tennis in the Face is a fairly forgettable and shallow distraction that’s neither very charming nor challenging. If you’re looking for a distraction while your latest AAA title downloads the newest update, there’s plenty of other more rewarding experiences in the PlayStation store. If you’re hosting your nephew for the holidays, on the other hand, and he wants to play your PS4 and all you have is Grand Theft Auto V and Dragon Age, then Tennis in the Face might be a good game to balance out the library.
Review by: Nick Walge | Reviewed on: Playstation 4