If you’ve ever played tennis, then you’ve undoubtedly encountered someone who could use a little, ummm, encouragement to make you see things your way: refs, obnoxious bystanders, other players. For fallen tennis hero Pete Pagassi, it’s the makers, purveyors and consumers of Explodz energy drink. Like many poor souls before him, he just kept chasing that caffeinated dragon and his sports career suffered a B-12 fueled flameout.
In Tennis in the Face, the new game from 10tons Ltd, Pete vows to protect the public from the evils of this nefarious nectar and take his vengeance out on the makers of Explodz and anyone who gets in his way. In this Angry Birds-type physics puzzler, Pete will battle against the agents of the Explodz company, hipsters, police and clowns. Some want to stop him because he’s hurting their bottom line, and others just think he’s kind of annoying and an obnoxious jerk.
Tennis in the Face plays a lot like Angry Birds meets Casey’s Contraption. You aim with your finger to whack your tennis balls to take out your opponents. The levels and enemies get tougher and more and more convoluted the longer you play with some levels requiring you to set off a series of events and chain-reactions in order to get the required results. You’ll have to contend with breaking glass, piles of junk, exploding cans of Explodz and floating balloons just to name a few. These can either be obstacles for Pete or, in a lot of instances, be used in some bizarre fashion as you set off your mousetrap. The enemies are no cakewalk either, as their defenses increase and the way to dispatch them requires increasingly devious tactics.
Those mousetraps you have to set off, however, are where the game runs into problems. There’s a whole lot of luck involved in getting things to go the way you want, and sometimes you honestly don’t know why things worked out or why you failed. We’ve had times where the solution to the puzzle was clear as day, but the pieces of the puzzle weren’t fitting in right. Like trying to get a projectile to hit a case of explosives to cause a piece of junk to fly across the screen to knock out that annoying lawyer, but the projectile just kept getting caught on something and would miss the mark by a hair. And then, out of the blue, after doing the same thing over and over again, everything would work the way it was supposed to.
The game’s physics can also be a little wonky as well, with the ball not bouncing the way you would think it should, or things not reacting in the way that you expected them to, or objects just stopping dead with no reason at all. We can’t tell you how annoying it is to to wait with baited breath for something to fall, only to have it hang on to the edge with dear life, or to expect a whacked ball to hit a hipster to end the level, only to have it bounce unexpectedly over that retro lover’s head at the last possible moment. It’s irritating to say the least.
Despite these problems, Tennis in the Face can be a lot of fun. There are a lot of levels and maps to play through and they’re all cleverly designed. Also, the way you progress is refreshing as you don’t have to beat every level to make it through each world map. The graphics are also well done and the character animations are hysterical. It’s a cute little game, and you’ll want to see Pete through to the end of his quest for redemption.