NaffRobot’s love letter to California Games came as something of a surprise; a pleasant one, but slightly out of the blue. Indeed, in an increasingly crowded market of iPhone games on the App Store the true gems are becoming evermore tricky to uncover, but by chance Pocket HalfPipe reared its head this week and I’m glad it did: it’s brilliant.
The simple skateboarding game presents you with the eponymous collection of plywood and tasks you with the job of pushing, spinning, grabbing and flipping with just two on-screen buttons and an intuitive, friendly tilt mechanic. The whole thing couldn’t be simpler, really – there’s a button for your feet and one for your hand – the former button handles flips (hold the button and swipe outwards) and the latter does grabs, which work the same way.
Likewise, the tilt controls handle your character’s twists and spins, and is automatically calibrated when you tap the ‘foot’ button to start your run – a clever idea that really should be used in all such games and it’s baffling to think that, personally at least, this is the first time I’ve seen this happen.
Progress through the game’s modes is handled with points, and there’s a free skate, a 30 second mode, an initially locked ‘big air’ mode and a survival mode to keep things fresh, plus there’s the option to unlock new boards and other goodies, all coupled with GameCenter compatibility and Retina visuals for iPhone 4 users.
I’m impressed. Pocket HalfPipe is a great deal of fun for skating fans, and it’s a nicely produced, competent game that offers a nice diversion. There’s a learning curve, sure, but the game lets you play at your own pace and seems to constantly reward you along the way. Sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that prove to be the best, and thus Pocket HalfPipe marks our first iPhone game of the week.
The game’s just 59p at the moment and is available by clicking the icon below.