Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 5, iPod touch 4
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Game Controls Rating:
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TNNS is Action Button Entertainment’s second iOS title, co-created with Rabbx. Those who recall my Ziggurat review (due to the original publisher folding, the game’s been re-released as a self-published title now with widescreen support) will know that I loved the game except for one thing: the controls. Well, history repeats itself.
This is a take on the classic Pong and Breakout formula, where the goal is to break blocks by bouncing balls off of the block at the bottom. The twist is literal: the balls can be bent in any direction or sped up by moving the finger in the desired direction during the slowdown period after the ball is hit.
This mechanic gives the game a unique feel, and it makes it feel like the player has more of a say over what is happening; a perfectly-bent shot is like nothing else. The goal is to hit the star box in each level to complete it, and with hundreds of level segments appearing in random order, each time feels different. Oh, and there’s same-device multiplayer for that true Pong action, in both TNNS enhanced mode, and a classic no-frills mode as well.
But oh, much like Ziggurat, my frustration with the controls is the one thing holding me back from truly, truly loving this game. The paddle controls are all 1:1, which allows for bending of the ball as it hits off the paddle to work extremely well. But it seems like there’s just not enough room for the player’s thumb to maneuver the paddle without obscuring things. This is because due to the ‘waggle’ mechanic, there’s just too much two-dimensional movement of the thumb to not often be blocking something. It’s especially noticeable on the iPad. Even on a widescreen device, it still feels like there’s just too much obscurity, in a literal sense. I played this game on 6 different devices across iOS and Android, and I only really felt somewhat comfortable on the Motorola Xoom, a 16:10 10.1" tablet. Seriously. Perhaps if the game gave players three lives to play with instead of just one, so that mistakes didn’t feel like end of the world, then the game would be a lot more fun.
Someday, I’m sure that the creative ideas of Action Button Entertainment will come in a package that I will truly appreciate the controls for, and I will love it unequivocally. Maybe next time.