In the arcade game Skee-Ball, which celebrates its hundredth anniversary this year, you roll heavy balls up a ramp to land in holes at the other end. You gain points, bells ring, tickets spew out, and you can take home a Tootsie pop or stuffed animal if you keep at it long enough. The recent iPhone game Ramp Champ played with this concept a bit, but we’re surprised to find that Skee-Ball succeeds in its own way.
For starters, the physics in this game are incredibly lifelike. Each ball acts exactly as you’d expect it to, unlike the slightly floaty physics of Ramp Champ. You can also tilt the device slightly to add a sort of aftertouch spin effect to the ball, giving you that extra ability to land it in the more difficult to reach 100-point goals. The ramp looks completely realistic as well.
However, all you get is a very straightforward simulation of the arcade game. This is no small feat for an iPhone game, but after smacking clowns, fish, space aliens, and other interesting targets in Ramp Champ, Skee-Ball feels very ordinary. Glowing targets that grant you bonus multipliers provide the only visual punch in this game, and also make high scores more challenging to achieve.
Like in Ramp Champ, you can use tickets to buy prizes, but in Skee-Ball these are rotated out randomly. New balls are the only unlockable items you can actually use, and the other wacky items (like a mullet wig) don’t give you a clever bit of text or any other satisfying extra. They’re just decorations for your virtual shelves.
Despite how simple it is, we can see Skee-Ball as a great app to come back to from time to time. Leaderboards and achievements through Plus+ make this basic game go much further than we expected. However, we’re really hoping for some updates to introduce different kinds of ramps that make further use of the great physics. We recommend picking this game up if you don’t think that one plain old ramp will bore you too soon.