It's that time again! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals and other. Prepare yourselves for yet another review by the one, the only, Ewan Gleadow. Actually, we are in for a treat. I don't have to talk about the morals of gaming like I did with Postal 2, nor do I have to berate the game for being genuinely horrific to play like I did with Race for the White House 2016. No, Tennis in the Face, developed and published by 10tons is a relatively tame game. I'm reviewing the Xbox One version, which is a bonus in itself, we'll get to that later.
Like I said in the previous paragraph, the game was developed by 10tons and is available on the Xbox One store currently for the extremely affordable price of $4.99.
Surprisingly there is actually a story to this game. You play as Pete Pagassi, a reference I probably don't understand, as you move from level to level destroying those addicted to "Explodz". What reason is there for destroying these? Well, apparently it ruined his tennis career and he is the only one who can free the citizens from the evil grasp of "Explodz". From what I found the game portrays anyone that drinks "Explodz" as evil, from clowns to the police to hipsters. Yes, these people are evil in real life anyways, but "Explodz" is much, much worse.
It's a pretty basic story but what's to be expected? The game doesn't need a huge in depth story and I think it's great that this game's story is so simple. Basically, the game just says "Here is your motivation, go do it." and that's the best way to play smaller games like this.
Over the course of each "world", you get more of these newspapers. You don't actually need to read them, but that's all the story you'll get from the game.
Much like the story, the gameplay is extremely simple. Armed with a tennis racket and some balls you set off around the many, many levels in the game. The goal of each level is simple, eliminate every enemy on the screen with as few shots as possible. Now some levels are extremely easy, while others are much more complex and difficult. To fire your balls you need to aim using either the D-Pad or the analogue stick. I would tell you which analogue stick you use but for the life of me, I can't remember which one it is. It seems to be much more accurate when using the analogue stick surprisingly, as the D-Pad is still pretty useless. I'm not saying it's bad to use the D-Pad, but when I was playing I felt the analogue stick was much more precise.
I should point out at this time that the game is a mobile port. Now, I'm generally not the biggest fan of mobile ports, mainly because they're usually a cash in for a quick micro transaction. But I can give this game a pass because it doesn't have microtransactions. This is great for so many reasons, but primarily it makes playing the game much more enjoyable, it's a no strings attached experience. Now most mobile ports for the Xbox One are bloody terrible, I'm mainly thinking of Battle Islands and Battle Ages. This game honestly gets bonus points for being one of the very few games out there to not include microtransactions, I'm extremely thankful for the lack of them and I presume many others are too.
Now I mentioned the variety of enemies a couple paragraphs ago, and while they are varied, some of them just don't make sense from a story perspective. The first few stages you'll battle clowns. I'm honestly not sure what possessed the devs to go for clowns, it doesn't really fit in. Police and hipsters, I get why they'd be enemies and use "Explodz", but not clowns. Still, it's only a small thing, and anyway, the clowns don't really do anything, they're the standard, everyday enemies to introduce you to the game.
I must admit, I did think the game was a tad tutorial heavy. Every few levels would be broken up to introduce something new that would only be seen in one or two areas. Enemies we're just introduced to are swiftly replaced with something different, presumably to keep things fresh, but the impact it has isn't a good one. It feels as if it's trying to juggle too many balls at once by having so many different enemy types. It's not bad to have variety, but it is when you have so much of it.
There are a couple levels that I found more annoying than challenging. I can happily praise the game on the many ways it makes you think of the easiest way of completing a level. The easiest way to complete every level is to do what I did, Google a walkthrough for the game. To be honest, the game isn't that difficult, but like I said, some levels are just plain annoying. Said levels really just rely on where the ball is going to go, it's completely random and you just have to keep repeating it until you win. On other levels you have to be so precise, it's extremely difficult to do that with a controller.
The joy I had once felt at the beginning of the game soon turned into anger and frustration. I do get angry at games quite easily, but this game was really pushing it. Even with a guide showing me precisely what to do, I somehow managed to do something wrong, either the ball wasn't going where I needed it to go or I didn't hit a certain object at a certain time. I found the best way to play the game was in short little chunks, which I suppose is accurate considering this is still a mobile port that was meant to be played in short chunks.
Star and point systems in games have been around for decades and have slowly made a transaction to mobile games. Angry Birds as far as I am aware is the big one that uses a three-star system, this game is extremely similar. Does it use a ball system? Honestly, I don't actually know what it is. To pass a level with three stars you need to do a specific thing that the game doesn't tell you. I literally had no clue what I was actually supposed to be doing, killing all the enemies in a level sometimes didn't unlock all three stars. It was strange, I ended up playing quite a few levels over and over to make sure I had unlocked all three stars.
graphics and sound
Graphically, the game looks great. They're not stunningly amazing visuals but a cartoon styling is just what the game needed and that's what it has. Because of this, it's bloody lovely to look at, each character and enemy being easily distinguished from others. It's vibrant and colourful, something extremely lacking in games these days.
Hopefully, you can see how gorgeous the game looks from that screenshot provided. Some lovely visuals really do make or break a game, this is an example of where the graphics make a game. Without this visual style, I doubt many people will have bothered playing the game. But the goofy cartoon art style is what egged me to play on until the very end.
But while the game looks great, the sound and music in the game were horrible. It's not that it sounded bad, well, it is actually. Most of the music in the game was just a continuous loop which was broken up occasionally by a loading screen. But because the levels only lasted a couple of seconds, you'd be constantly switching back and forth between two different music tracks. It really links in with the repetitive nature of some levels, especially the last world which seems to just be older levels of the game. I honestly had to give this game a rest after a while, it's why this review took a long time to write up. A bit of backstory, I get headaches quite easily when playing games if I'm stuck, it's why I don't play Metroid, there's a lot of backtracking and it'd give me a good old headache. I felt the same when playing this at times, frustration took over and I just had to stop playing.
It comes as no surprise that I can recommend this game. It's actually one of the few games I've reviewed where I had a bloody great time playing. Not just because of the fun gameplay, but because of the easy thousand gamerscore also. I'm a bit of an achievement buff, so when I was given the copy of this game I was really happy to see the game was an easy completion. I earned an achievement for allowing the score on the main menu to reach one million. Another one for hitting three clowns with one tennis ball. It's small things like those achievements that kept me playing to the end.
Like I said before, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game, it was really fun. Graphically I could ask for nothing more, it looks superb, and the cartoon graphics really compliments the gameplay rather well. As for the gameplay itself, it feels comical and fun, but a couple of breaks may need to be taken in between levels to stop the game going fully stale.
But that's not to say the game didn't have its faults. While the focus on gameplay served them well, the lack of interesting or in fact music that was fun to listen to really knocks the game down a peg or two. And while I did excuse the game for being a mobile port because it had no micro transactions, you must remember this game is still just a mobile port. I can't confirm or deny whether or not anything has been added or changed to make the game any different as I haven't played the mobile game.
It's always nice to play a game you don't expect much from and then actually enjoy it. This is definitely one of those games, I didn't expect much and I got a hell of a lot more than I bargained for.
|+ Fun gameplay||– Repetitive music|
|+ Easy 1000G||– Some levels frustrating or repetitive|
|+ Great graphical styling||– Controls are a bit poor at times|
|+ Simplistic story that doesn't get in the way|
|+ No microtransactions|