Penny Parlor Review

Before Space Invaders ate up all of the world’s change, penny arcades were already populated with pinball machines and other mechanical games. Now a selection of the latter are available on your iOS device in one package named Penny Parlor. The app is a welcome change of pace from the typical flavor of physics-based games on the App Store, and a fun distraction overall.

Penny Parlor features four different games, representing cricket, baseball, golf, and American football. They all feel fairly original by themselves, and the whole collection isn’t like anything else you’ll find on the App Store.

A combination of football and shish kebab.

It’s not just the type of game that makes Penny Parlor unusual, but the graphics as well. Everything just looks extraordinarily realistic. It doesn’t hurt that they’re just simulating real-world machines with minimal moving parts, but no matter how you slice it, Penny Parlor is as gorgeous as you could want an iPhone game to be. Everything looks very convincing, both from a technical standpoint as well as a stylistic one.

Each game is pretty simple, but entirely skill-based at the same time. The games have a very tactile and immersive quality to them, which is also a testament to the sound design. Not all of these games are as engaging as the next, however.

Cricket is probably the most underwhelming of the bunch, but maybe we’d feel differently if we were based in a country that paid attention to the sport. Golf also strikes us as a lesser component of the entire release, in no small part because of how precise you need to be while playing it. Fine-aiming your shots is kind of difficult, but it’s far from unbearable. The real highlights are the baseball and football games, though.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

The baseball game is a good representation of the classic pinball-style game that there is no shortage of in real life. A ball rolls down a chute towards your batter, who you control by pressing a button that’s rendered on the virtual machine itself. Just by using your timing, you hope to hit the ball into different areas of the play space, scoring home runs, advancing runners, or earning extra innings for running up your high score.

The football game isn’t quite as iconic, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. It’s not complicated; you just try to slide a puck past three moving defenders into slots of varying size, the smallest representing a touchdown and the others earning you yardage towards the goal line. You have a time limit in which you try to try to score as many touchdowns as you can, and each touchdown earns you a little more time in which to do so.

The biggest weakness of this product is obviously its simplicity. There’s no story, no content to unlock, nothing like that. But that’s also why it’s so charming. It’s a fun little distraction, and if you’re interested enough in it to read this review, then it’s easily worth your attention. Other than the self-contained enjoyment derived from each game, there are decent Game Center hooks to keep you coming back. So, even if it’s not a revolutionary game, it’s executed very well.

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