App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Colin Lane, the creator of the fantastic Golf Zero, is back again with another zany sports game, though maybe not in the way that you might like. Touchdowners is definitely a different take on football games, but is certainly less ambitious (and consequently less compelling) than something like Golf Zero.
Touchdowners is a 2D take on football where two teams of three try their best to drive downfield with the football to score a touchdown. Instead of having plays, downs, or most of the other regular football rules though, all of this action just happens in real-time. Players bump and run up over each other to steal the ball away and toss it to their teammates with no stop to the action until someone scores.
As an added twist, all three players on a team in Touchdowners are controlled simultaneously and only by swinging their propeller-like arms. Using on-screen buttons, players can choose to spin these arms clockwise or counter-clockwise and can press a pass button to throw the ball when they have it in their possession. It's definitely a weird system, but using this control scheme you can make your players jump and bounce all over the screen the way you want them to with some practice.
Touchdowners sports three main modes: Career, Arcade, and Multiplayer. In Career Mode, you choose a team and are challenged to win a certain number of games in a row vs. AI. Arcade Mode is a much simpler mode where you just see how many times you can score against AI without being scored on. Finally, the Multiplayer Mode lets two players play on the same device, which is an interesting idea–but one that also seems pretty impractical.
Unlike something like Golf Zero, where there was a progression of new levels and mechanics, Touchdowners just presents the same basic gameplay in slightly different forms across its modes. Your objective is always some form of “score a touchdown” on the same map and under the same conditions. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, I'm not sure that Touchdowners's mechanics really hold up very well after a few plays.
Although Touchdowners doesn't feel like a particularly deep experience, it's kind of hard to complain about it considering it is a free-to-play game. The game is ad-supported and a single in-app purchase of $1.99 removes them completely. With this system, you'll be able to play more than enough of Touchdowners to realize if it's your thing or not before paying.
For me, playing against AI repeatedly gets old quickly and playing with another person is too impractical to make sticking with the game feel worth it. While I think there is something to the mechanics in Touchdowners, it's likely only something you can truly enjoy if you can find someone to play with.
The bottom line
I'm glad to see Colin Lane continuing to make weird sports games, but I'd like to see things trend more toward things like Golf Zero than Touchdowners. Although this game doesn't really feel like football, it still feels a little too much like a sport. This makes Touchdowners seem like something you might want to play with someone else, but not alone against AI.