Commuting Cognition: Dude Ball, Ultimate Tennis Revolution

What is this?

I’ve never been a big mobile game player, but I ended up working in a mobile games company, so I’ve been trying to expose myself to more games in this market and attempt to gain an ever-better understanding of them. One of the ways I’ve been doing that is in trying out new games, seeing what they do wrong and right, and try to draw conclusions from them that I can use in the future to make our games better. One of the resources I’ve been using for this is TouchArcade (not sponsored), and their columns listing the new iOS games of the week.

This resulted in me playing a lot more new games during my daily bus rides, but I also feel the need to discuss them somewhere and keep a log of my thoughts instead of just internalising them. So, Commuting Cognition. These will be brief, bus-ride-long thoughts on these games, and should be seen less as reviews and more as first impressions. They also may not be daily, depending on how full the bus is that day.


Dude Ball

Wow, an interstitial ad before i even got to look properly at the title screen, i think that’s a new record.

Dude Ball is endlessly scrolling pinball! It’s such a clever mechanic. As the ball moves higher, the flippers reposition themselves to make a new playable area. You activate the flippers by tapping on either half of the screen, and lose once the ball falls below them. It’s fun!

Once you lose a wheel of fortune appears, potentially awarding you with one of several prizes, notably an extra ball that throws you right back into the game. I found that quite interesting as a reversal of the interest curve: you’re in that post-game valley, relaxing after the loss, but then it suddenly spikes back, barely giving you time to register it. It’s pretty effective, especially since it’s not guaranteed to happen.

Of curious note is also the complete absence of any powerups, at least as far as i could tell. Even something as simple as consumable continues could’ve been an easy addition, and i’m not sure how i feel about their absence. On the one hand i did notice their absence, i wanted them to exist so that i could continue playing, but that just meant that i immediately played another game anyway, so it feels like a good decision even if i can’t adequately put into words exactly why.

The shop also features progressively unlocked skins, gacha style, in addition to options to purchase skins individually and to buy them all at once. The latter seems like a dangerous option since it removes the feeling of progression from the game, and consequently diminishes the replay value; one could argue that you already got that player’s “worth”, but i’m never fond of sacrificing fun for profit.

Ultimate Tennis Revolution

UTR is a tennis game featuring one-hand controls. Like, real tennis, simulation style. One-hand controls for this type of game sounds like trouble. And yet…

You have a single joystick as your control, which you can move to move and hold to charge a strike. On paper this sounds awful, but in my short two-match experience it actually didn’t feel that bad. It consistently felt like the prompts were contextual, as in only allowing me to move until i was in position and then turning into a strike charge. This isn’t the case, as i did accidentally charge instead of moving a few times, but the very fact that it *felt* that way shows that they’re well tuned, if nothing else. With all of that said, they never stopped *not* feeling weird either, so i’m not entirely sure what to take from them.

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