Category: Sports »
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
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I’ve haven’t played many sports titles on iOS with good reason; like fighting games, the gameplay is all dependent on latency. For developer Mobage, Inc., the solution for translating fast-paced hoops to the non-buttoned platform is to remove the ability to play basketball all together. Instead, we are left with a situational analysis app, an almost coaching approach, where every player action is dictated by the statistical probability of its outcome. From passing to shooting to playing defense, each action is a timed decision where players must choose the best course of action to score a bucket.
The way Showstopper sets up this grand experiment is placing a 5-member squad against an opposing team in league play; the catch is that I didn't actually play but rather governed the team of stars. After the opening tip, it is up to me to decide the actions of the team ,as every two seconds the players pause and I am given five seconds to decide whether to dish the rock or shoot the pill. This may seem to be a lengthy process but as each game takes less than three minutes to complete, I am hungered, like looking for seconds on Thanksgiving with none to be found. Upon loading the first match-up, my first thought is, “this is different." However, by the tenth league game, I'm sure that I'm not enjoying the basketball portion nearly as much as the collectible card game (CCG) component.
Did I utter basketball and CCG in the same sentence? That I did. How Mobage came to the conclusion to unite the two is well beyond me but what I do know is that it feels compelling enough to stick with (even if basketball gameplay is non-existent). At the conclusion of every match-up, the standouts from my team level up and continue to gain xp that translates into new abilities on the court. So, instead of continually shooting jump shots right under the basket, new window options of “layup” or “dunk” appear at my coaching disposal. Customizations are also the rave, as new gear equates to in-game attribute bonuses. With the gamut of CCG depth for such a simplistic sport, I could not help but imagine what could have been if this type of CCG were layered onto a different genre.
Is Showstopper Basketball a great sporting experience with excellent b-ball gameplay? Absolutely not. Is it worth a glance to imagine what cool CCG and sports could possibly become on iOS? Absolutely.
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Spending a lazy Sunday afternoon plastered to the couch with an adult beverage in hand, while enjoying America's favorite pigskin pastime has become a critical strand in the fabric of our culture. Along with the sport itself, fantasy football is quickly becoming just as ingrained in the day-to-day lives of fanatics everywhere. What if there were a way that fans could meld the world of fantasy sports and social media together? The trading card company Topps has stepped in with their new hybrid application Topps HUDDLE to fill this critical void.
It is hard to define what exactly HUDDLE is as a piece of software. Is it a game? Could it be a social networking tool? Might it even be considered a research source for fantasy football owners? Ultimately, the aim is for this to be a fan's one-stop shop for football statistics, fantasy information, and up to the minute briefs on the biggest names in the National Football League.
The game portion of HUDDLE consists of initially acquiring "packs" of players, like in trading card packs, which makes complete sense given Topps' brand history. Each player in the pack is assessed with a plus or minus points value at the end of each week. These cumulative totals are used to compare against friends via Facebook, contact lists, or just strangers met at random. There is also a sit vs. start mechanic, where only seven active players can be selected per week. True to the freemium design model, additional packs of players can be purchased to further build out a roster.
While the game portion of the application is solid enough, where it will shine for fantasy owners is in the news section. Many of the daily ins and outs of the season will be constantly updated, including such juicy tidbits as injury updates, statistical analysis, and suggestions for budding players on the rise. For those that are fans of twitter banter, there is even an option to keep in touch with NFL standouts via their personal twitter profiles, all of which are seamlessly accessible from within the software.
Players also have the ability to trash talk, message amongst themselves and even swap players between rosters on Facebook. It pretty much goes without saying that there is a little bit of something for every NFL fan.
Trying to explain to someone what Topps HUDDLE actually is proves to be a rather tricky proposition. Though it attempts to fulfill the needs of several different types of fan, the lack of focus and direction ultimately renders the application/game a somewhat confusing amalgam of stats and social media. Fortunately the free cost makes the barrier to entry minimal, leaving it far more appealing to the masses. If given the chance, Topps HUDDLE could prove to be a strong mid-season replacement for your stat tracker of choice.