Developer: Freeverse
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

While this is probably for another article altogether, the iPhone really just isn’t meant for full sports simulations. EA and Gameloft will continue to pump out sports sims as long as people keep buying them, but Freeverse seems to have a strong foothold in the arcade sports genre with its Flick sports lineup. NBA Hotshot continues this franchise by blending the NBA license previously used in Flick NBA Basketball with a nostalgic Chuck-E-Cheese style basketball shooter.

IMG_0598With the recent success of Skee-Ball, it makes sense for Freeverse to get back into the simple arcade mix with another game. While not quite as fluid as some of the previous Flick titles (or Skee-Ball for that matter), NBA Hotshot sucks you in and does its best not to let go. As expected, the graphics are quite nice, resembling arcade basketball machines with precision. There are two game modes, ‘Classic Play’ and ‘Three Strikes’ to keep you occupied for quite some time, and each mode allows you to gain trophies for good play, al la Skee-Ball. Most of the early trophies are kitschy things like popcorn and soda, but after awhile you’ll start collecting NBA team balls. To keep you playing just a bit more, the game uses the Plus+ Network to keep an X-Box Live style awards system and a global leader-board.

The downfall of this game, for those who aren’t into the arcade format, will either be the lack of depth or the somewhat difficult controls. The depth issues are instantly apparent when you first start the game. Although there are two modes, both only require simple flicking towards the basket to accomplish a shot. Mastering the flick motion to accommodate different depths is certainly challenging, but with a bit of practice it all comes together. While perfecting the flick motion is rewarding, there is really nothing overly outrageous to keep you playing past winning a few prizes here and there, unless you are just hell bent on getting a global top score. At the 99 cent price point though, Freeverse has proved with Skee-Ball that simple can be good, and that repetition can turn even the most discerning gamers into iDevice slaves.

The bottom line is that if you enjoyed any of the other Flick titles or were one of the ten billion happy Skee-Ball owners, you’ll be pleased with NBA Hotshot. Freeverse has proven that the majority of app gamers aren’t interested in 20 hour gameplay epics, they just want something that they can pick up and instantly absorb. I have a hard time believing that NBA Hotshot will be anyones favorite app of all time, but for a short diversion from a persons commute or excruciatingly boring office meeting, this one may do the trick.

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