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AR-Ball Game Review (iOS)

Usually, I don’t get annoyed by games. If a game isn’t good, I understand that it’s not for me and I I stop playing it. One game, however, was able to get me annoyed and not in a good way. I mean, some games are very hard and can get you frustrated at times, but this one seems like it was designed to convince the user that it’s better for him to uninstall the app. This game is called AR-Ball, an Augmented Reality Paddle Ball ARKit game.

What is AR-Ball?

AR-Ball is a Pong-like game, where the player uses his iPhone or iPad device to hit a ball which has to touch a goal area inside the game boundaries. The gameplay area is like a box with just one side open, your side. The ball can bounce on the walls and the harder you hit the ball, the faster the ball travels. It’s like playing a tennis game in zero-gravity, the ball doesn’t fall bust just travels in the direction it got hit.

AR-Ball videogame screenshot
This is tricky, I need to hit the ball so it hits the other side of the cylinder.

I really like playing Pong games since I was a child and I always have a warm place in my heart for this classic game. In this game, however, you don’t play against another player. The only thing that can fail you is your own moves. If the ball gets outside the boundaries of the box you lose a life and you only have 3 live per level. The game has 15 levels in total.

If you want to play a Pong game against an AI opponent, you might want to try out AR PingPong Rally, which I’ve also reviewed last month.

Gameplay

What I love about AR-Ball is that it’s not an easy game. There are some tricky levels that force players to use precise hits in order to score.

Pong like game, level with a barrier
This barrier moves up and down, so I need to time it right so it hits the barrier and then the goal area. I eventually just went closer with my iPad behind the barrier and hit the ball towards the goal.

Sometimes that game can be tiring, especially when you hit the ball very gently and the ball travels so slow that it just feels like it will take a minute until it gets back to you. Of course, you are not restricted to staying in place. You can physically move inside the box and hit the ball, and on some levels, it’s even encouraged. Just keep in mind that by doing so, you are risking of making the ball pass you due to the fast reaction time needed for hitting the ball at close range. Furthermore, your field of view is limited and it’s hard to see where the ball is going if it moves really fast.

So although the gameplay mechanics feel frustrating at times, I can understand the design behind it. If you want the ball to travel in fast speed, just it hit harder 🙂

Graphics & Level Design

The graphics in this game are the simplest that you can get. The developer just used primitive 3D objects like planes and a 3D ball. It added some visual effects when the ball intersects with the planes but other than that there is nothing attractive about the game, it looks very boring. I have nothing against simple level design, but there is plenty of space for improvement here.

The menus carry the same simplistic design, but the UI design is actually nice, simple and colorful.

So What Breaks the Game?

What breaks the game is nothing that I mentioned above, is the full-screen pop-up ad that feels the screen the moment I hit the ball. It happened to me several times. The moment I hit the ball, a full-screen ad appears and when I dismiss it, the ball resets.

I can’t believe this was random because it happened like three times in like a minute and a half. Also, it happened the very split second I hit the ball. I don’t know whether this was the intention of the developer or not, but this completely ruined my experience.

When it happened once I say “never mind, let’s move on”, the second time I said “Wow, what a bad luck”, the third time I just shut down the app and uninstalled it. I was reviewing this ARKit game, so I had patience, but a regular user would have much less patience than I had.

I am living aside the boring game design and the bad choice sound effects, but why abuse users like that?

Conclusion

This is by far one of the worst gameplay experiences I had in an AR game to date.  The game itself doesn’t flow well, it’s not immersive in AR and has an uninspiring design. Don’t get me wrong, I love retro-style games, but this game the design just doesn’t have any spark, nothing visually appealing to make it enjoyable to watch. Some nice visual effects could have spice things up in my opinion.

The only good thing I have to say is that it has some challenging levels but this no enough to make the game fly.

The game also has a global leaderboard which is a good option for this type of game. Other than that, the game fails to deliver in almost every aspect—Not recommended.

I am still optimistic that a good AR Ball paddle game like that will come to ARKit.

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