10S is a bullet-hell tennis game where each match is a frantic battle to survive. Strange dog enemies and massive bosses fill the screen with projectiles, all while you fire shot after shot at them. The amount of things you need to juggle and track to succeed is intimidating, but it makes each victory feel incredible.
I’ve featured Jesse Burnett’s work a few times for this weekly feature, with games involving Metroid-esque exploration and God Hand-inspired punching. Burnett’s willingness to play around with numerous ideas and expand them into full games is impressive, leading to games that are part prototype and part celebration. 10S has a straightforward concept: What if tennis required the player to dodge a ton of shit? The execution of that idea makes for exciting play sessions where you never quite feel in control but still squeeze out victory regardless
The goal in 10S is to eliminate all the enemies on screen by hitting them with your tennis balls. You can serve a new ball whenever you want provided the ability is not on cooldown. This means you can have four or five of your own balls bouncing around the screen, careening into enemies and flying through the air. While you do this, the enemies can fire their own attacks. You can hit grey attacks to eliminate them from the field, but there’s no way to get rid of red attacks. This means you are constantly ducking and weaving through enemy fire and rushing to knock back your own shots.
I played some sessions of 10S after Into the Breach and was surprised to see how much the two games feel alike. Both require you to be intricately aware of your environments and what your opponents are going to do next. Both ask you to risk getting hurt and taking incoming fire in order to hit the perfect shot. 10S might be faster and more hectic, but it has the strategic feel of a tactics game at times. Those tactics expand between matches as you gain faster movement speed or explosive shots for your tennis balls.
10S fits into my category of 20 minute games: something you can pick up and play a quick session of on a lunch break or before you head to bed. The mixture of bullet-hell and NES sports makes for a game that is difficult to master, but feel incredible once you do.