Developer: n3Infinity
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I’ve found air hockey to be the perfect date-at-the-arcade game. I used to deliberately lose at it to let the lady win (of course), but my poor acting skills never impressed. One fateful night I realized I sucked at air hockey. Now I was able to look all masculine while I thwacked that puck with all my manly man strength, and then still lose much to my date’s delight. Just call me the Daytona Casanova.

Now the Daytona Casanova need not take his lucky date beyond the Burger King, all thanks to Sketch Hockey. This air hockey simulator lets me and my girl smack pucks at each other all night long. All we have to do is draw our paddles as lines across the iPhone screen. The angle of the line and the angle the puck hits the line at dictates the puck’s direction, while the length of the line dictates its speed, with shorter lines sending shots flying across the table.

It’s a great use of the iPhone’s touch screen. On my first go at Sketch Hockey I did find it a little clumsy to draw a line short enough before the AI scored in my goal, but after a few minutes it came naturally. The single-player campaign cycles through each difficulty level across each of the ten tables, and each jump in difficulty is geared just about right to push you along towards unlocking all ten tables.

Each table offers variety, and not just in their arcade-like art designs; some have bumpy walls, some have wider goals, and some have goals that include the sides i.e. where the wall should be. It’s with the latter group where the game loses something, because although it’s a neat idea unfortunately the AI doesn’t react to pucks heading towards what it seems to think are still walls. This makes these levels a bit too easy. Similarly, while having two pucks on the screen instead of one should make for appreciable chaos, the AI has too much trouble keeping up, even on the harder difficulties.

The single-player campaign has limited longevity anyway. While no-one’s expecting the moon for 99 cents, the repetition through difficulties and switching from one puck to two pucks and back again isn’t much of a hook. Happily, you can find yourself a pretty lady (or a pretty guy) and hook up for some single-device multiplayer. Also the OpenHeist integration offers achievements as well as Facebook and Twitter options for those of us who love to spam our friends with hockey-based updates – and who doesn’t?

Sketch Hockey is a cheap and cheerful recreation of air hockey, if not spectacular in its current version. It comes Daytona Casanova approved for all prospective daters.

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