Ramp Champ

★★★ Named Macworld's Best Designed iPhone Game of 2009 ★★★
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Ramp Champ Review

When we think of skee ball, we picture rolling balls down a bowling-like lane that leads to a target and series of holes. Ramp Champ ‘reinvents the wheel’ for this classic by having you hit objects on themed courses instead.

Ramp Champ comes with four tables: Clown Town, Breakwater Bay, Space Swarm, and The Icon Garden, each of which has an authentic arcade look to it. Freaky clowns from arcade shooting galleries, targets on sticks, and glass bottles make the game feel very real. You even see the tickets scroll out of the machine at the end of the round. Music and sound also play a big part in creating an atmosphere related to the table, while keeping the bells and whistles of a skee ball table.

You’re gonna die, clown!

Instead of just having you shoot for high scores, however, there is some strategy and skill in the behaviors of each machine. In other words, each table has a specific pattern of action and scenarios that are repeated every time you play.

In theory, you can technically beat each table. Scenarios repeat each time, allowing players to hone their strategy to go for the highest possible score. For example, on the Space Invaders-themed Space Swarm, you must knock down all of the aliens in one wave before the next comes up. To make it through to the end, knocking down more than two aliens at a time with each ball in necessary. This kind of directed feel is implemented into all the tables in different ways.

However, this does make the game repetitive and, after we had completed all of the goals for each, there was little pulling us back in for more. Those who enjoyed the game will be able to purchase new level packs in-game, each of which contain two new tables for $0.99.

The Twitterific bird is one of the prizes.

Even with its repetitive nature, Ramp Champ boasts an impressive number of toys based around table themes for collectors. These can be purchased with tickets received after completing a round at a table. Once in your inventory, you can read an entertaining blurb about the item.

The major oversight of this game, online scoring, was one of the strong points in The Iconfactory’s other hit, Frenzic. That game was able to form a community through its online platform, but there is none of this in Ramp Champ. We feel that this feature is a must for pick-up-and-play games.

Ramp Champ does have its issues, but we can still highly recommend this quality skee ball remake for its low asking price. For a first foray into the genre on the iPhone, it does its job well.

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Skee Ball Game Ramp Champ Coming to iPhone

In the past year, Iconfactory has served up Frenzic, a tap-happy puzzler that mastered the art of being simple to pick-up but hard to conquer, as well as one of the most popular Twitter apps on the App Store, Twitterrific. Hardly what you’d call two peas in a pod. But what’s next for the developer?

Naturally, the fact that Iconfactory has disclosed so little about its new title Ramp Champ, announced back in June, has only piqued our interest. Luckily for us, Iconfactory has decided to reveal just a few titbits to whet our appetite, hinting at just what we should expect when the game hits the App Store later this year.

‘Obviously we’re trying to give a big surprise punch when the game is released,’ Iconfactory’s Gedeon Maheux told us after a certain amount of begging, ‘but we can say that Ramp Champ is a new twist on a classic boardwalk game: Skee Ball.’

Skee Ball, for the green amongst you, is an arcade take on ten-pin bowling, where dropping the ball into a hole at the end of an inclined run, rather than smashing down pins, is the order of the day.

‘The game takes the best parts of this familiar arcade experience and amps it up for the iPhone,’ Maheux continued. ‘All the familiar trappings are here: incredible gameplay, a wealth of fabulous, collectible prizes, a unique soundtrack and some of the most beautiful art ever to come to an iPhone game.’

A little digging has also revealed that Iconfactory plans to make use of in-app purchases, launched with the iPhone’s 3.0 OS, allowing developers to sell further products within the apps themselves. Just how this will be utilized in Ramp Champ’s case remains to be seen, but Iconfactory’s Craig Hockenberry has stated on his blog that the game will make ‘great use of it’.

If that’s got you wanting more, the game’s teaser site should be your next port of call, though it currently reveals very little. As ever, if Iconfactory sheds any further light on its latest project, or if we can track down a screenshot or two, we’ll bring it straight to you.

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