Developer: Skyworks Interactive, Inc.
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Arcade Hoops Basketball, by Skyhook Interactive, is what I like to call a “twiddle” game. It’s a game that gives you something to do for a few minutes rather than twiddle your thumbs while you are in line for something. There is nothing wrong with this kind of game, in fact, the cell phone game market is swamped with them. In this category, Arcade Hoops Basketball is really well done.

The game reproduces the arcade/bar game where you throw basketballs in rapid succession to try and get as many baskets as you can in a given time. In light of this, there isn’t a lot you can do with this game except try to make it as realistic as possible. Arcade Hoops does a very good job of this. You “pick up” 1 of 4 available basketballs at the bottom of the screen with your thumb and flick them toward the basket. The direction and length of your flick determine the direction and distance the balls travel. You try and score as many baskets possible before the timer runs out.

Everything on the screen is very realistically rendered and the sound effects are very authentic. The preferences give you the option of 3 different background soundtracks for the game. Even these are nicely sampled “electronic” beats, and they don’t get too annoying after playing a couple of games. Unfortunately, there is no option to play the game while listening to your own music. Even though it would probably eliminate the sound effects, I think this would be a good option. The only other preferences are volume controls for the music and sound effects. The preferences screen also serves as the Help screen which is a good use of space since the controls are very simple.

There are 2 different versions of the game, Classic and Progressive. The Classic game is the game as I’ve described with a static hoop. The Progressive game gradually moves the basket farther away requiring you to “throw” the ball farther to reach the basket, but is otherwise the same. The scoreboard will give you feedback such as “Air Ball” if you miss, or “Swish” if you get the ball in without using the backboard. Once the time is up, you can enter your name on the High Score board which you can also access from the main menu. During play, you can tap on the top of the screen to pause or abandon the game.

Given that the price was recently lowered to $1.99, I think this game is a pretty good value. You probably won’t feel too bad if you get bored of it after a couple weeks. Based on the quality of the graphics and action in the game, I look forward to seeing what else comes out of Skyworks. As far as gameplay, I’m already considering taking it off my iPhone. Even though there isn’t too much you can do with this style of game, I think there could be ways to add some other options like fewer balls, having a custom set game timer, or perhaps having the distance of the hoops change randomly. It might be interesting if the game used the accelerometer to change the gravity affecting the ball. Also, I might be willing to pay more (and leave it on the iPhone) if this were one of 3 or 4 games contained in one app. Perhaps combine this with other similarly-themed games such as Skee-ball.

Good value and good quality make this worth trying, but expect the novelty to wear off quickly.

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