Version Reviewed: 1.0
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
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Sometimes there are things in this world that excel not because of their complex structures and vast scopes, but because of their startling simplicity. After a month of playing some fantastic iPhone games that had involved in-depth stories (Hybrid: Eternal Whisper) and shocking visuals (Aera), I spent the weekend with an old Chuck-e-Cheese staple, Skee-Ball. No, I didn't actually go to Chuck-e-Cheese... I just picked up the latest iPhone skee-ball simulator by Freeverse.
For those of you that need a quick refresher on what skee-ball is, it is a simple game where you bowl a little ball that is about the size of your hand into a field where there are different areas that are worth different points. If you have no recollection of the game, you either never played as a child (sad) or you were the kid that ran up the skee-ball ramp and cheated (me). The goal of skee-ball isn't just to get a high score though, it's to get as many tickets as you can so you can go to the gift store and redeem some epic prizes. Usually the prizes range from fake plastic mustaches to, in my heyday, the almighty Sega Genesis.
Reviewing a game of this nature is quite difficult to review because there is absolutely no story and no AI... it's just you and your skee-ball. The first thing that I look at in this situation is the games build quality, because if the game doesn't work, it's just not worth playing. Upon startup, the game puts you on a nice looking skee-ball lane, with a bit of information clearly shown in the scoreboard area. The controls work quite simply with you flicking your finger on the board as fast or as slow as you want, depending on how far you want the ball to go. Once the ball is in the air, you can flick the screen in any direction to bit some spin on the ball... quite handy for those of us who could never draw a straight line. Every once in a while, one of the holes will light up, giving you the opportunity to get some good bonus points and some serious tickets.
WIth the gameplay and the graphics working as well as they do, the next fear of a game like this is longevity. Will I really be playing this game in a month... or even later on today? Well, the short answer is yes, but the reasoning is different depending on the type of player you are. For the offline folk, the tickets you earn give you the ability to buy some great things at the gift store. In my few days of play, I have bought various normal things such as pens and fake mustaches, but I've also bought myself a cow themed skee-ball to use in the game and, get this, a Senate seat. Forget the Sega Genesis... buying Senate seats is the way to go.
The real meat of the games replay value, in my opinion, lies with the inclusion of ngomco's brilliant Plus+ Network. All you have to do is log in once and it keeps your information updated every time you start the app. In my few frantic days of playing, I've moved into the mid 400's in the global leaderboard, which I'm quite proud of. Some more diligent gameplay and some simple tenacity will certainly vault me into the 200's sometime next week. Along with the Plus+ Network tracking my total tickets earned, it also tracks the awards that I've earned in-game, from hitting 3 lit holes in a game to ending all Friday homework with my Senate Seat. Having just over a quarter of the awards under my belt, I definitely have some serious playing to do if I want to call myself a true master.
All in all, I'd recommend buying Skee-Ball as long as you know what you are getting yourself into. This isn't epic Skee-Ball RPG or anything (which would be awesome by the way), its just Skee-Ball... you throw your 10 balls and then you are on to the next 10. If you are apt to playing iPhone time wasters during your morning commute, or just can't bear to keep yourself mentally involved in your Monday work meetings, pick this one up today. It's well made, has some great intangibles (Plus+ Network, the ability to buy Senate Seats), and for some reason never gets old.
Now the next trick for Freeverse would be to get a digital version of Brewskee going. These people are truly amazing.