iPad Game Review: Splash Duel HD Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Splash Duel HD is a brickbreaker type game that is uniquely suited to the iPad. One of the best things about the iPad is how it is ushering in a social gaming renaissance. The ability for multiple people to play simultaneously on the same device is shaking loose the stigma of the lonely gamer, and Splash Duel HD is a perfect example of why. Yes, there is a single-player mode. However, this game really only hits its stride when you are playing with another human.
As with all brickbreaker games, your job in Splash Duel HD is to break bricks. However, what sets this game apart is the fact that while you are doing so, your crafty opponent is attempting to do the same thing from the other side of the screen. Even the single player game incorporates an AI to control the other paddle so if you are looking for a more individual brick breaking experience, look elsewhere. Additionally, the ever-present phantom paddle makes this game feel at times more like Pong with bricks than Arkanoid.
Games are short (1-5 minutes) and are scored based on the number of balls you and your opponent let slip by. Initially, you might find yourself a bit obsessed with breaking all the bricks. However, as they only serve to provide power-ups (and power-downs for your opponent) it would be best for the obsessive completionists out there to just let some of those bricks go unbusted, concentrating instead on getting that little ball on your opponent?s half of the screen. Trust me, that is exactly what the AI will be trying to do and you would do well to emulate.
In addition to the single and 2-player modes, there is also a cooperative mode where your collective goal is to destroy bricks rather than score points on each other. I have a soft-spot for co-op games because I love the sense of teamwork it inspires, particularly when playing with my kids. This one is well-implemented and can go on for quite a while if you work together.
The graphics in Splash Duel HD are bright, colorful, and well-animated. The underwater theme is a bit puzzling but no more so than the bazillion zombies, ninjas, and doodles you find in most other games, so what the heck. Overall, the graphics and effects to be good, but not spectacular.
Splash Duel HD has all the requisite plinks, blips, and stoinks you?d expect from a brickbreaker game. All are nicely sampled and add to the general ambience of the game, as do the bubbles and various underwater sounds. I was a bit confounded, however, by the in-game music. When it is enabled, you can sort of hear what might be construed as music playing very lightly in the background. However, when you turn the music off, you also lose the background menu sounds. Additionally, the game does not allow you to play your own music via the iPod app.
Splash Duel HD is a fun little multiplayer brickbreaker/pong game that struggles to stand out from the crowd. The single player game is no different from the multiplayer game, except in the fact that your opponent is an AI player. The game truly shines, however, when you play with another person, particularly in the co-op mode.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 3.5 - Adequate graphics, but not spectacular. While they are polished and professional looking, you won?t be using this app to show off your iPad. Sound: - 3 - Good sound effects, but nothing to make you reach for your headphones. Weird, almost non-existent music track, and no ability to play your own tunes. Controls: - 4 - Good paddle control with the use of a single finger. No tracking issues or sluggishness, and interface is very intuitive. Gameplay: - 4 - A nice twist on the brickbreaking genre, but not a standout. That is, until you find a worthy opponent. This game really needs two people to make it fun.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the various power ups. There are more than a few of them and they are not intuitive.
- Play this game with a friend!
- Unless you're playing in co-op mode, ignore the bricks and try to get your ball onto your opponent's side of the screen. Points are only awarded for "goals."