Jul 4, 2011

Can Knockdown 2

Mode 3 of the game play. Note the
TNT can in the lower left of
the pyramid.
How do you turn a dexterity oriented game into a digital version of the same? When I reviewed Jenga the answer was "you don't", but Can Knockdown 2 shows that there's more than black and white to this question. Can Knockdown 2 is an Android adaptation of the old, carnival game where you're tossing balls at various targets such as a stack of tin cans. The interesting thing about dexterity games (defined as games in which you flick, throw, pull or otherwise manipulate real world objects in a skillful manner with your hands) is that a big touch screen allows for flicking to be implemented well. However, what a game developer does with this power is a different story.

Can Knockdown 2 features three modes of play:
  • Throw the ball at 'bulls eye' style targets. Some are stationary and some move. There are also power-up cans that are thrown in the air that do things like grant you a time extension.
  • Throw balls at cans being shot into the air (much likje a skeet shoot). This is quite a bit more challenging that the last mode as timing your throws becomes every so much more important.
  • Throw balls at stacks of cans and try to known them all down with as few balls as possible. You get 5 balls to start with and an extra ball every time you clear a level (i.e. knock all of the cans down). There are also special cans such as the TNT ones that explode upon contact sending everything nearby flying.
The interesting thing to me about the game was its interface. Throwing the ball is done with a drag motion from the ball to target and the speed of the drag determines whether it's a quick toss or a slow lob. Both types of throws will end up at the same target, but one takes longer to arrive and thus a timing element is introduced. This also prevents you from starting a shot and then waiting, by holding down on the touch screen, to finish it. When throwing balls at stationary targets the game is so easy that it's almost pointless, but as moving targets enter the game coupled with the timer things start to become more interesting. And adding the mode in which you're trying to knock down stacks of cans with minimal room for error adds a clever puzzle dimension to the game. Now you have to think about the weak link that will knock down the most cans with a single ball.

qrcodeThe graphics in the game are solid and perhaps a little overdone with fancy rendering for objects that have minimal artisitic appeal. This extra effort penalizes the game with some occasional unnecessary slowdowns during play on lower end devices. Sound effects are as you would expect with the plink of the ball hitting a target on cue. And the aforementioned touch interface works great. The game also supports leader boards via Open Feint.

Another interesting thing about this game is that instead of having a free demo version or an ad supported version the developers have elected to give away the basic 'Can Knockdown' game in hopes that you'll like it enough to plunk down the whole dollar that it takes to buy this improved version. Based on Android Market numbers that's working about 1% of the time, but is still yielding a highly successful game with over 10,000 sales (compares to over a million of its free predecessor being downloaded). My recommendation is that you check these two games out and then buy this version if you like the idea of the game if only to support the developer. It's a solid carnival style game and perhaps the best of its kind of game that I've played on my Android phone. Oh, and it also works well on my tablet. 4.5/5 stars.

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