Developer: Nachobeard
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Developer Nachobeard claims in the Stats section of their game that HOOKBALL “draws inspiration from other games such as Ziggurat,” Action Button’s apocalyptic survival game that goes over a minute only for skilled players. HOOKBALL is much the same in spirit: at the end awaits only failure, but the journey is rewarding.

Hookball-2Players control a grappling man who must launch his hookshot at midair enemies to stay aloft above a lake of fire, while not letting the dial on the center temple run out and end everything. Enemies can be dispatched by either punching then absorbing them after latching on, or by launching them and any absorbed enemies in any direction – taking out others in the process. Dispatched enemies drop coins that can refill the center dial and delay the demise of our dashing protagonist.

The controls work really well: being an iPad-only game means of course that there’s plenty of room for all the actions to be executed. Tapping to hook on to enemies works exceptionally well, and the punches to absorb them and swiping to launch them away with taps and gestures equally so. Dragging to collect coins does kind of feel disconnected, like it could be more satisfying or fit in better with the rest of the controls.

Hookball-6The simple mechanics and how players use them is also where some of the game’s cleverness comes in to play. Absorbing enemies leads to shorter gain than just launching them right away, but it also means that larger time gains can be made when launching into enemies. The game starts to evolve for skilled players; from just figuring out how to survive to knowing how to survive longer. Competitive gamers take note: Game Center seems to be non-functional in version 1.1, as my scores didn’t submit and my best time of 74 seconds feels far inferior to what experts should be able to do.

Hookball’s just a solid little arcade game that can be picked up whenever, and enjoyed whenever there’s a spare few moments.


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