Tennis in the Face wants you to lob tennis balls at faces 12
When you're looking for instant stress release, chances are you turn to your smartphone for a quick game to get your mind off of whatever it is that's bothering you. The best kind of game for that is the one that's simply fun - it's not necessarily hard, it's just enjoyable to play. And the latest release from 10tons ltd fits right into that mold: Tennis in the Face.
The name says just about everything you need to know: you're lobbing tennis balls at the faces of the enemy, which takes the form of clowns, riot police, hipsters, and hazmat-suited scientists. The game has a degree of Angry Birds-style physics to it, though the tennis balls you - as Pete Pagassi (uh-huh) - are smashing with your racket are certainly going a lot faster than Rovio's sling-shotted birds. Gameplay is straightforward: aim, release, and watch the ball fly.
Points in Tennis in the Face are awarded on hits, with multiple hits with the same ball getting more points, and headshots worth more. There are also obstacles to contend with, including explosives, glass panels, and enemies with shields or armor. But you're Pete Pagassi, that stuff doesn't slow you down or get you down.
The backstory, such as it is, in Tennis in the Face is a little more in-depth than in other games - the evil energy drink company Explodz has taken over town and you're taking it back, assisted by your racket. Most of the time you're lobbing fuzzy yellow tennis balls, though occasionally you've got to hit away explosive Explodz cans too. The game has over a hundred levels with a few bonus levels. While you can complete a level just by taking out all of the targets with your limited supply of projectiles, doing so by saving a requisite number can earn you a crown per level.
What really makes Tennis in the Face is the 10tons style: it's just plain funny. The hipsters and clowns and the like you're walloping with tennis balls respond with ragdoll-style flailing limbs physics, the riot police explode with donuts when you hit them, and once you've finished a level everything goes into dramatic slow motion while the score is tabulate. The entire game is styled as a cartoon, with Pete Pagassi sporting an angry chiseled jaw and a ferocious red headband and cans of Explodz bursting into flames when hit. The game embraces its goofiness in a way few others can.
Overall, Tennis in the Face is fairly easy. There are a few levels that proved to be a little more difficult than others (especially as you approach the end), but by and large gameplay was enjoyable without seeming too easy. It helps that there are dozens and dozens of levels, though we were able to breeze through the first fifty or so without much replay needed. We did our tennis ball-lobbing on an HP Pre3 and for the most part the gameplay was buttery smooth, though the smartphone did struggle to keep up when rapid and explosive chain reactions started going off - thankfully, Tennis in the Face is (with the exception of a handful of levels) a single-fire-at-a-time game where lag can be disappointing but doesn't prevent you from playing the game effectively.
At $2.99 for webOS all Pre and Veer smartphones (sorry, Pixi) and the HP TouchPad, Tennis in the Face provides a good amount of enjoyment, though it's easy to blast through the first half of the game in a relatively brief period. Things get a little more worth the money once you get into the more difficult levels, though sometimes you can't really put a price on simple mindless entertainment like this.