Tennis in the Face has found itself on just about every gaming platform out there. Its most recent port to the Switch makes sense on paper for the mobile puzzler but there are many issues lying underneath as to why it doesn't belong there. We'll get back to that later though. The concept is that you jump from level to level playing as a tennis player and use your exceptional racketing skills to wipe out enemies in the most efficient way possible. It kind of works like the three-way offspring between Top Spin, Worms and Angry Birds. Sadly, it fails to live it up to any of its parents' hype.
This game does not belong on the Switch. It gains nothing from Nintendo's brilliant hybrid platform and the console itself certainly didn't need it either. 10tons' simple enough puzzle game suffers from a very fundamental flaw in that you can never escape the thought that it's just another mobile game.
You can pick up Tennis in the Face on the Nintendo eShop today for £4.49, $4.99 or your regional equivalent.
There's not too much of a story to dig into but to the game's credit there is a little bit there for us to enjoy. Our poor hero Pete Pegassi had his tennis career ruined by Explodz, an energy drink that has gotten everyone addicted worldwide. Upset at what happened to him, Pegassi goes out to seek revenge on Explodz and save everyone who had been overcome by addiction.
It's certainly no Bioshock Infinite but it was never going to be. Honestly, it's better that some games keep it simple and concentrate on just delivering gameplay. It's also no surprise as Tennis in the Face began life as a mobile game. That's not to say mobile games can never have developed plot lines but most of the time they're designed for quick pick up and play sessions. You know the situation. You're on the bus heading into town and need something to kill 5 minutes. You whip out your phone and play something nice and simple to pass the time. It works well and makes complete sense why both the Android and iOS markets are dominated by these sorts of titles. The Switch however is another matter all together.
Why is this on the Nintendo Switch? There's practically nothing to it. It feels like a mobile game through and through and when you consider the likes of Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey are powered by the Switch, it just makes no sense. It just doesn't add anything to a platform with far better alternatives already being present. Super Meat Boy just came out, a great time passing game that offers several times the experience Tennis in the Face ever could. To 10tons' credit, at £4.49 it is cheap and that might just keep its chances of a fair score in the review alive. Had they been greedy and whacked a £19.99 price tag on this I have no doubt I'd be obliterating it right now.
Let's not focus too much on the questionable porting choice though. What's the gameplay itself like? In one word, basic. You aim your character's shot with either stick or even the directional pad and shoot away. The game has that little going on that not only does it have three different input option for movement but also three different ways to shoot too (ZL, ZR and A). Half of the Switch's buttons just don't do anything with Minus, L and R being most notable for this. There's two types of simplicity in video games. Brilliant simplicity that captures just how incredible gaming can be at the core and over simplicity that just leaves the player wanting more and, even worse, just getting bored. This suffers badly from that latter.
Perhaps that's the scariest issue with Tennis in the Face's gameplay. It just bores me. By no means is it a bad game and there's enough there to keep you going for 10-15 minutes but beyond that I just couldn't find value in it. The thing is, I don't want my Switch games to be like that. All of the best games released on Switch so far have been expansive experiences that offer countless hours of fun. You haven't got to be a massive AAA title like Breath of the Wild to do this either, it just takes some time and effort. Enter the Gungeon is by no means a massive budget title yet still offers the same potential for replay ability as any one of Nintendo's big releases.
I will praise how, despite being moved over from mobile, there are no microtransactions in sight so after that initial fee, you do at least get the whole product. Mind you if they had the cheek to charge me for such a simple game and then still expect more to buy into some games as a service cash grab I'd be pretty furious. Another positive is that in later stages there's a nice challenge that can really push you to find a solution. Many of the puzzles do seem to only have one optimal strategy not leaving much room for creativity but this isn't too big a deal. In this regard, it's a competent puzzle game that can at least keep you occupied for a short while. You will have to chore through the early levels however which are all horribly tutorial heavy which comes across as a little patronising considering how simple the game is.
Graphics and Audio
2D, colourful and visually solid. Tennis in the Face is hardly going to push the Switch's hardware neither is it a testament to what Nintendo's hybrid can do but it doesn't look completely out of place on the Switch. I feel there was missed potential to do more with the visuals when porting it to a far more powerful device than mobile but when you consider that this has already had equally unambitious Xbox One, PC and PS4 ports, this isn't surprising. Regardless, I can appreciate good visuals when I see them and Tennis in the Face is a nice looking game for its price bracket.
SFX wise, there's a lot to be happy about with simple noises such as hitting the ball and making contact with enemies giving very satisfying audio feedback. The actual level music is not so good. Particularly disappointing is that only one music track features for the actual stages and it's effectively just a guitar riff loop. It feels lazy and uninspired, much like a lot of this game in general. It didn't take long for this backing theme to get so monotonous and irritating that I had to mute my Switch and put my own music on in its place. It's certainly no Mega Man 2, put it that way.
Tennis in the Face feels like a lazy port that was thrown on the Switch as a cash grab to take advantage of the platform's early success. Whilst the game itself runs fine, the lack of innovation or attempt to improve over other earlier mediocre ports is aggravating. It's a hollow experience that offers very little beyond the surface and other than a bit of mental stimulation from later, more challenging levels I can't honestly say I ever enjoyed myself playing this.
I will reiterate that at just £4.49 it is fairly cheap but somehow still feels a little pricey. After all, it's £2.99 on iOS which is where it belongs in the first place. Is there any reason at all to spend the extra money to get this on a port that adds nothing of note to the original? No, not at all. Sadly, even its value on mobile is diminished as, whilst it works fine as a mobile title, its just such a saturated market filled with dozens of similar titles. At least with the Xbox One and PS4 versions I suppose you could get easy achievements and trophies which I'm sure some people valued but here, on Switch, such arbitrary accomplishments don't exist. With all of that considered, I can say without doubt that buying the Nintendo Switch port of Tennis in the Face would be a complete waste of both your time and money. I'll take back those words if we see effort to actually make this the definitive edition but I heavily doubt such improvements will ever come. For now this will remain as just another mediocre mobile port on a system that didn't need it.
|+ Nicely done SFX.||– Too simplistic.|
|+ Satisfying aesthetic.||– Still more expensive than the mobile version.|
|+ Somewhat cheap for a Switch game.||– Doesn't belong on the Switch.|
|– Can get very boring, very quickly.|
|– It's a mobile game that fails to do anything more than just be a mobile game.|