Sometimes, you don’t just want a steak, you desire one; a beautiful, thick, juicy steak, that perfect cut, cooked just on the blue side of rare. It melts in your mouth and, with each mouthful, transports you to a place of epic, epicurean delight.
Sometimes, you just want an Ikea hot dog.
If Inside is that steak, if Titanfall 2 is that steak, if Overwatch is that steak, then Tennis in the Face is the hotdog.
It’s not something you’ll think about all day as you go about your menial life. It is, though, something you’ll grab out of sheer convenience when you’re up to you neck in arguing families and stylishly Swedish flat packed wardrobes. It’s instantly enjoyable, instantly disposable, and instantly forgettable. But when it’s in your hand, mustard dripping onto the cardboard-encased Askvoll as you wheel the trolley through the car park, you’re glad to have it.
Tennis in the Face is a bouncer-game – think Angry Birds and you’re in the right area – and star of the show is Pete Pagassi, a washed up tennis pro hell-bent on exacting revenge upon the manufacturer of energy drink Explodz. As back stories go, and as unnecessary as one is in this kind of game, developer 10tons has done a masterful job of creating fun characters, a humorous story, and a better-than-real-life energy drink.
Playing Tennis in the Face is pretty much as you’d expect – it’s almost exactly unlike Wimbledon. Aim your tennis serve, easy enough thanks to the visible aiming line, and let fly, your shot bouncing around the level for several seconds, causing mayhem. The aim (pun intended) is to knock out all the enemies on each platform-filled level in as few shots as possible. Knock them all down with a single shot and you’ll score a bonus.
This simple premise is played out over more than a hundred levels of joyous chain-reaction-filled fun. More convoluted levels, full of obstacles that can help – exploding cans of Explodz, containers full of tennis balls, heavy lumps of scrap metal – and hinder (panes of glass that destroy your tennis ball and end your shot chief amongst them) await. Each level completed fills in the city map and moves you one step closer to destroying Explodz once and for all.
Clearly, Tennis in the Face is a mobile game. That’s fine. We’re a broad church and we don’t discriminate. It’s a puzzler that’s not too puzzley, and it offers up its bouncing balls of joy in conveniently bite-sized servings, just as a good mobile game should. Chances are, though, settled down on the couch with a steaming mug of tea and controller in hand, you’ll spend more time in a single session with this game than you ever would in the queue at the post office. Not all ports of mobile games stand up to that kind of scrutiny, but Tennis in the Face does.
Tennis in the Face tries very hard to be a really, really good game about hitting clowns, hipsters, lawyers, security guards and scientists in the face with a tennis ball. And it succeeds. It does everything right. There are no annoying unskippable cut scenes, everything’s explained, the humour doesn’t grate, it looks pretty, and there are enough neat touches to let you know that some real pride has been taken in getting everything just right. If this was all games could be, then this would be a perfect game. We know, though, that games can be so much more. But they don’t always need to be.
The point here is that not everything needs to be Inside, or Titanfall 2, or Overwatch. Sometimes, something needs to be the hotdog. Tennis in the Face is the hotdog and, if you don’t mind, I’m going back for seconds.
Tennis in the Face is available from the Store, priced £3.99.
10tons serves up bouncy, explodey fun.
“You clearly liked the game – why have you only given it a 7?”
Here’s the thing. Tennis in the Face is the very best game about hitting people in the face with a tennis ball we’ve ever played. It’s probably the best ragdoll-physics-bouncer game we’ve ever played – please don’t be Angry with us, Birds. It’s hard to think of ways the game could be improved upon, without it being a different game.
As a game, though, how does it measure up against all the other games ever made? Well, that’s clearly a ridiculous question. But that’s what the score at the bottom of a review has come to mean to many people. So here it is. Tennis in the Face gets a 7 out of 10. But it’s only four quid, so go and buy it.