The PS4 doesn’t just have AAA titles – it also shows off some impressive indie games. Tennis in the Face is designed to be a quirky and funny little physics game, filled with silly references and unique level design. So is it an ace or a love?
The premise of the game is simple, Pete Pagassi (no relation to any tennis player with a similar sounding name) overcomes his addiction to Explodz, an energy drink that makes everyone evil. He must then journey across the city to save everyone else from the evil energy drink. No, this isn’t Sunset Overdrive and he doesn’t use guns, instead he knocks everyone out with his tennis balls.
In essence, the game is a physics game with some cool rag doll effects. You can hit a variety of enemies ranging from creepy clowns to riot police and some hipsters in between. While it’s immensely satisfying to knock down a collection of hipsters after hitting the first in the head, sending his ragdoll corpse tumbling down the platforms, there is even more.
With all kinds of environmental elements, players can set off a chain effect as various glass breaks, rubble falls and crates of drinks explode. My favorite are the red balloons that can float upwards and are rumored to be sentient – a wonderful reference for those who were fans of that old French children’s film.
Unfortunately, Tennis in the Face simply doesn’t overcome its mobile roots. The level map is irritating on console, clearly built for mobile/touch interface. While the game is fully functional and looks pretty on PS4, it essentially feels like a mobile game. The level design is interesting although with the more precise console controls, some of the physics actually feel a bit fuzzy. Perhaps it worked well on mobile, but with the pixel perfect physics possible on console, it ends up a bit muddy and unfair.
There are a lot of unique levels, offering some cool physics puzzling. Crowns are awarded if you can complete them without using all your balls, prompting OCD replay ability as you strive to get perfect scores across all levels. There are also additional challenges, such as taking out three enemies with a single ball, or knocking down five enemies before the ball bounces five times. The challenges ramp up and of course unlock bonus levels and experiences.
That is, until the ending. The final level is actually a collection of previous levels as you try to blow up the factory where the energy drink is made. After completing so many unique levels, it felt rather hollow – I had already completed these and just had to remember how I’d done so. It felt like a cop out at the end of a game that had featured such interesting level design until that point; it would have been more interesting to simply show the cut scene or remove the last batch of puzzles from normal progression and use all of them as the final levels.
Tennis in the Face itself offers some pretty aesthetics and unintrusive music. While neither are particularly memorable, they add a quirky and fun vibe to the game. There are cute comments and elements, which adds a chuckle to the physics puzzling.
The game is also coming to PS Vita soon, where I think it will be better suited. While it may be excellent on handheld, it ends up feeling superficial and unfulfilling on console. Much like playing Angry Birds on console, it simply doesn’t offer the same kind of experience, making a fun game feel average by transferring to the big screen.
To play through the entire game takes about two to three hours, although to grab all the achievements and get perfect scores on all the levels will take significantly more. The game costs R73 and has over 100 levels, which I’d say is excellent value for money. Considering the cost of the game, it certainly is a fun little pastime, but it won’t be anyone’s favorite gaming experience of the year. If you have a PS Vita, I’d recommend waiting for it to launch on that platform.
Last Updated: November 25, 2014