Review: SplitApple (iPhone)

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4 mins read
I don’t know about ‘beautiful,’ but it does look good

Archery is a vastly underrated sport. The thrill of landing home a perfect shot at 20 feet is one that is never really lost, even after playing the sport for years. It’s also a sport that translates well to videogames – it was the best reason to by Wii Sports Resort, for instance.

SplitApple is an archery game for the iPhone (or in HD on the iPad), that is both surprisingly good, and quite disappointing. To start with the disappointing: This game uses the iPhone gyroscope for aiming. I don’t like the gyroscope. Though it works fairly well in this instance (a feat, given how many games do this poorly), it also means that this game can’t be played on public, assuming you don’t want to look like a twit.

For such a throwaway game, not being able to play on the train or bus is a killer. When you’re playing games at home, you’re not likely to pick this up, either. Not when there’s your PC, PS3, Wii or whatever else lying around. So, SplitApple doesn’t really have a place in the gaming library.

Which is a pity, because the core game is good. The physics are reasonable (though wind has a far more pronounced effect than it should. At times it’s like you’re firing into a tornado). And for a game entirely about shooting archery targets, there’s a surprising depth of gameplay options. Along with the traditional archery games, there’s a shooting gallery of sorts, and a couple of different ways of handling the number of arrows available (survival’s a great one, that requires you to continue to hit close to the centre of the target to keep getting more arrows to shoot with).

And test your patience with gyroscope controls!

 This is offset slightly by the length of time each game tends to last – we’re talking dozens of arrows, so SplitApple doesn’t really work as a time filling game, either. Better control over the length of your game would have been appreciated here.

The game looks quite good on the iPhone too, with decent numbers of polygons being pushed about. Game Centre is also present, for both achievements and high scores, so there’s some incentive to master this game – and with a leaderboard of over 33,000 players, there’s plenty of competition there.

But the gyroscope just kills this game. Developers who want to use that form of control need to understand that not everyone plays with the iPhone at home, that it’s also a device for games on the go and without an alternative control scheme (touch screen would have worked fine for an archery game), then it’s really crippling the value of the game from the very outset.

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