May 5, 2011

Air Hockey Speed

Edit: We welcome Bill Schoonmaker to the MeAndMyDroid review crew. Having another extra hand for reviewing will allow for the reviews to come that much faster. Thanks, Bill, for joining us!

Reviewed on HTC Droid Incredible by Bill (Schoon) Schoonmaker

Air Hockey Speed endeavors to be a fast paced reproduction of the age old arcade classic Air Hockey. For those of you not old enough, Air Hockey was the game back in the corner of the old arcades we used to frequent. It was a table with a bunch of tiny holes in the surface. Once you put your money in air would come out of the holes. Each player then held a round paddle and hit a puck back and forth that floated on the cushion of air. It was fast paced and frantic! Most of the time, from outside the arcade, you could hear the clack clack of the puck hitting the paddles as two geeks battled it out over a first to score 7 round. Over time, the game, like most arcades went the way of the dinosaur but you can now play this classic directly on your android phone by downloading it from the Android Market. The game has a fairly small footprint and can also be moved to your SD Card if you so desire. The size of the install is only around 1.8 megabytes. The version that I reviewed was 1.08 and included a few fixes and enhancements that you might enjoy. When you run the game you are presented with a nice interface with no background music. While I normally don't play games with the sound up very loud I noticed immediately the lack of music. I then exited the game and fired up the Android music player and played, what else, some Van Halen as a salute to those golden years of arcading. I then re-ran the game and lo and behold, background music! From the main menu you have the option to Play, Change Settings, get some information or Quit. I should also mention that this is the Free version and towards the bottom are advertisements. They are not at all intrusive at this point.

Going into the settings menu gives you several options. You can turn the sound effects on and off, turn vibration on and off and even enable or disable the puck trail. For single player games you can also change the Best Of... which means you can change the number of goals it takes to proceed to the next level. The default is best of 9, but you can also change this to 11, 13, 15 and even 17 for those long games. Back to the main menu and a quick press into the information screen gives you the only help available in the game and also a link to the developer's home page, Heading back to the main menu and a press of the play button gets us one step closer to an actual game of Air Hockey. Here you can choose one player or two players. Pressing the one player game presents you with an additional menu where you can choose the level to start off. Scrolling through this list shows you that there are 30 levels of AI to beat. At a best of 9 and 30 opponents that means it would take me 150 goals to best this game, quite a bit of entertainment for a free title. Choosing level one gave a slight pause as the game appeared to freeze but moments later I was presented with the game and the puck sliding left to right as if ready for a smack. The computer was on the top of the screen with the blue paddle and myself on the bottom with the red paddle. Placing your finger on the paddle gives you control of it. You can slide it back and forth, up and down, anywhere on the bottom half, or your side of the playing field. Think tennis if you're having a hard time grasping it. On the top is the opponent's goal. You have to slam the puck using your paddle to get it past the computer opponent and into his goal. Doing so will result in a score and getting five of these will allow you to proceed to the next level, if your opponent gets 5 then you lose the round.

qrcodeI'll admit that level one was a breeze, you could almost stand in one spot and just let the computer score on itself. He'd usually get the puck behind his paddle and then either hit it in himself or it would bank in easily. After a win you are presented with a nice silver trophy cup and then the only nag screen that I could find in the free version. There is a timer at the bottom of the screen where you have to wait a few seconds before skip is enabled. Pressing go will take you the advertisement showing on the screen's web site. It really is not that much of an annoyance at all and for a free game one of the least intrusive that I've seen as the ads aren't even on the main game play screen at all, just on the main menu and win/lose screens. Speaking of which, losing a game shows you a funny looking sad face with a busted tooth and a black eye. I did try clicking on one of the ads in the game, the Go button in the win/lose screen and strangely enough I got a message that stated [Sorry, Failed to Load Ad]. Maybe the Author needs to check into this as their revenue stream may be cut off. As far as game play is concerned the game is very smooth on my HTC Droid Incredible. The colors are vibrant, the controls are good save for the occasional jerk but overall the game is very playable. As I stated earlier the game starts off extremely easy but ramps up quickly. I honestly was only able to make it to level 6 before I lost a match. Fighting through several more levels has me currently at level 10 and not able to beat the computer. Essentially if you leave an opening here he will get a goal. The best defense is after a hit is always remember to move your paddle back down towards your goal to leave the least amount of opening available. If the game is this difficult on level 10 I can't imagine getting to level 30! In terms of replay I can't see a reason to do it again once you hit 30 but it will take some time to get there. There are no achievements or any other trophies to speak of other than the one you see after winning a round but it is the same every level at least up to level 10 as I've seen. Perhaps the author could add achievements for things such as a shut out or a straight in goal. Add Open Feint support and things could become a lot more entertaining and attention holding. There is a two player game mode where you could lay your device on a table and each person would control a paddle. I tried this by myself and it seems to work fine, might be good for a diversion or two while waiting for food in your local bar. Overall for a free ad-supported game this thing is a lot of fun. There is also an ad-free version you can get for around $1.00 US but I honestly can't see a reason to buy it because the ads are so unobtrusive. There really is no reason not to grab this one if you are a fan of fast paced pick up and play games. This might not be something you'll play for hours on end but it'll entertain you until you get frustrated that the AI is too good. Overall I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5. Thank you for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for having me as a contributor! I hope your readers enjoy my reviews.