Title: Tennis in the Face
Developer: 10 Ton Games
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 24 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes
The PS Vita has been home to Mobile games as well as games that are similar to Mobile games for quite some time. To give a brief list of reviewed titles, I could mention Angry Birds Star Wars, Plants vs Zombies, Pocket RPG, and Run like Hell. All of these are also on Mobile and came to the PS Vita afterwards. The list of these games is growing, including the game I’m going to review today.
Another breed of Mobile-type games is the kind that has simple stages where your goal is to solve in as few moves as possible to get a higher score and rating. Angry Birds is well-known for using this formula, as well as the recently-reviewed PS Mobile game, EP Sokoban Catzzles. While these aren’t the same, as far as gamplay, they do use that same type of stage gameplay of working hard to clear as stage in fewer moves to gain more points.
Today, we’re going to dive into a game of this variety that also dives into the sports genre. While today’s review isn’t a sports game like Madden or MLB The Show, it is a game that incorporates sports into its game. Cross-Buy across the PS Vita, PlayStation TV, PS3, and PS4, here is my official review of Tennis in the Face!
The story of Tennis in the Face is about a World Champion tennis player known as Pete Pagassi. At the beginning of the game, you see headlines that he has degraded to being a tennis coach for a group of kids in preschool, blaming his career’s downfall on energy drinks called Explodz. Later on, it is shown that he is arrested for breaking into an Explodz warehouse and he is admitted into Rehap to quit the Energy Drinks. He then vows to get revenge on Explodz for ruining his career.
The plot of the game isn’t something you’re shown a lot of, but you are shown every now and then in the form of newspaper headlines. Every time you enter a new area, you’re shown new headlines to showcase that area’s new enemy as well as different effects Explodz has on various people.
Tennis in the face is an arcade-style physics-based game where your goal is to knock out enemies in a stage by bouncing projectiles around in a way to hit and defeat as many enemies as possible. As you play through the game, you will be going from stage to stage doing this, though you will have various types of ammunition to use as you progress further as well as different enemy types that add different elements to the game.
There is only one game mode, and that is the main campaign. You will be placed on a City Map, where you will need to progress and complete stages in each district in order to unlock the next district. You will be following this model of progression through all 8 districts until you’ve cleared the entire game. There are more than 100 stages in total, so there’s a fair amount for you to do to finish the game for the first time. There are also special medal and tournament stages thrown in as well to increase the variety of things to do.
Playing through each stage has you in a certain area with enemies in other areas. Your goal is to take what ammunition you have and repel and bounce them around to stage to position them and knock out as many enemies as you can in as few “serves” as possible. Your ammunition takes the form of tennis balls and Explodz Energy Drinks. Tennis balls travel fast in straight lines and repel off of walls and buildings in a very precise manner. Energy Drinks, however, arc when served and explode once they land on the ground.
While your goal is just to finish each stage by defeating all enemies without running out of ammo, you can also focus on doing your best faster to gain a better score. You can earn more tennis balls in your score for defeating enemies in the least amount of moves. Doing better will unlock some things faster, though you don’t have to do this and opt for just defeating enemies without regards to doing it in the best way possible.
As you bounce tennis balls and energy drink cans around the stages, you will notice that there are precise ways to finish the stages. However, there is also a bit of luck involved. For example, you could launch a tennis ball in one location and it could knock out a clown enemy and make him fall down on the building he’s on. You could restart the stage and do the same thing from the same angle but have him fall off the ledge and knock out two enemies below. Much of the game is on angle, but some of it can also be on luck.
The game is simple, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy. Perfecting shots in some of the later stages can take many retries to get the right flow going. What may look like the correct angle from the start may be completely different from the one you’ll need to beat the stage quickly. Even if you’re a veteran of this type of game, you should not expect to go through the game without having to re-do any of the stages, especially the “Final Boss” stages.
All in all, the game isn’t a very long one. If you do the game in one sitting, you can probably clear it in a couple hours. However, given how the game is the same type of stage over and over, but with different enemies, it is best that you play this game in quick play sessions or you may feel it gets repetitive after the first hour or so. Regardless, it’s a fairly short game, fitting for the low price.
Playing and controlling Tennis in the Face will depend on what type of controls you prefer. The game has button controls as well as touch controls. Both types play well, so you can use whichever one you’re more comfortable with. If you’re playing the game on a PlayStation TV, though, your options will be limited, since button controls are more comfortable than touch controls on the micro-console.
The touch controls are pretty simple. You tap on areas of the menus to select options and you can drag in a stage to move your aim before you shoot. The button controls are a little different. First of all, you use the D-Pad and Left Analog Stick to move around in menus as well as stages to move your current aim. These aspects are pretty simple and the button controls function a little easier than accidentally firing off shots with the touch controls.
The rest of the controls are pretty much just firing off shots. This is more versatile with the button controls because several buttons are used to do this. You can fire off your tennis balls and energy drink cans with the X, R, or L buttons. You can also press Start to pause the game and Triangle to restart the stage.
The controls of the game are pretty simple, all in all. Though there is occasional lag in moving around the stage with the button controls and most of the controls are not explained to you as you play the game. Unlike the PS4 version of the game, the X and Triangle button actions are not shown on the game’s menu when you’re playing through a stage.
Tennis in the Face isn’t the biggest shining example of the Vita’s graphical capabilities. It has a very simple 2D design to it, but that design looks very well done on the Vita’s screen. Whether you’re playing on the Vita or the PlayStation TV, you won’t be able to find a single pixelated section or jagged edge on the character and effect models. For the type of game it is, Tennis in the Face looks really nice.
The way the game plays is also done well, for the most part. Aside from the occasional control lag in the maps mentioned in the above section, there aren’t any technical issues to speak of, throughout the game. It plays smoothly and the load times are pretty short. Overall, it’s optimized for the Vita very well.