Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4
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Namco has a vast trove of old-school arcade games that they can mine material from, even beyond just the typical Pac-Man and Galaga games. Digging a little deeper into the archives, Namco has pulled out an update to Rally-X and put it on iOS. Rally-X Rumble first features a neon-themed graphical style, though the actual designs are virtually identical to their 80's arcade counterparts. The core gameplay is the same - players drive around mazes trying to pick up flags while avoiding other cars and hazards like rocks. This classic game mode is available in the game, along with three other game modes, including two designed for multiplayer play.
The two modes with multiplayer support, Paint the Town and Point Battle, present the greatest variations on the traditional Rally-X gameplay. Paint the Town has players capturing territory, with the ability to square off territory, and to steal other players' territory. Point Battle has players trying to tag the leader, who is the only person who can pick up flags and score points. The game also keeps up Namco's recent tradition of releasing primarily universal apps, which is a fantastic proposition for iPad and multiple device owners. While it's not the default control scheme, the flick control scheme works perfectly with the game; I recommend switching to this one as soon as the app is opened up for the first time.
Of course, the game just doesn't really innovate too heavily on the classic formula, and the two singleplayer-focused modes are basically the same as the old arcade game, just with a neon paint job. The problem with the online multiplayer is finding players to play with. This does mean that the multiplayer mode is something that will work better with friends that do have the game, but this is also partially Apple's fault. By not offering some way to indicate that a player is ready to play a certain game but not actively playing it or sitting tirelessly at the matchmaking menu waiting for some other lost soul to join them, Apple is hurting the growth potential for games with live multiplayer, like this one.
While Rally-X Rumble won't likely convert anyone who isn't a fan of the game, those looking for a version of the game on iOS at last will enjoy this. For those who want to give the multiplayer on this game a test, my Game Center name is wondroushippo, and get in touch with me on my @wondroushippo Twitter account.