Quick App: Ramp Champ Brings Skee-Ball Fun to iPhone

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Ramp Champ [$1.99 - iTunes link] is a skee-ball-like, old school boardwalk arcade or amusement park-style game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Co-developed by the Iconfactory and DSMediaLabs, it's gorgeous. Of course, I'd expect no less from the pixel perfectionists behind it (and behind other well-loved apps like Twitterrific and Frenzic).

The premise is simple: using your finger and the iPhone's multi-touch screen, you flick balls up a ramp and try to hit targets, win trophies, score points, get tickets, and redeem those tickets for prizes. The art is sublime, from the included Clown Town, Breakwater, Spaceswarm, and Icon garden to the in-app purchasable add-on packs like the Ninja Attack and Tiki Island combo ($0.99 each). Other add-ons currently include Voyage, Halloween, and Challenge. This part of the app is implemented particularly well, and there's even a "restore purchases" button should you even need to re-download the add-ons.

In-jokes abound for the attentive as well. Developer Ged Maheux points out the classic icon sizes 16, 32, 48, 64, 128, etc. used as ticket cost for the prizes. And, of course, the first prize I bought was the Twitterrific blue bird itself.

There are three "goals" to each ramp. The first one tends towards the easy, a cookie to reward us for playing. The second and third range from difficult to how-the-frak-do-I-do-this. (Obvious tip: try to time your shots so that you hit more than one target with each ball). That you can often get close works only to make it more frustrating and addictive to play.

The frustrating part may be a double-edged sword, however. Sometimes flicking the ball seems absolutely intuitive and under your complete control, and sometimes it seems like there's no rhyme or reason to where the ball goes relative to how you flick. In the real world, and number of quirks in a ramp could account for chaotic end results. On the iPhone, it might just be a matter of tweaking the physics engine a bit more.

All-in-all, it's a beautiful, engaging, casual time-filler of a game, perfect for occupying interstitial moments. As a test, however, I gave it to an 11-year old to try out. I only got it back an hour and half later. So, yeah, it works for a wide range of players and time constraints as well.

If you give Ramp Champ a go, let us know how how many goals you get, and which prizes you pick up.

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Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 13 comments. Add yours.

BBYM#IM says:

Not worth it $1.99.. Does anyone know when is GTA will be released for the iPhone?

Hai says:

Last week was a blip, due to me spending much of the past two weeks eiwreving and testing iPad apps and little else. The balance will be back to normal next week. However, I take exception of me having not reviewed a non-HD app in weeks . The week before last, nine apps were covered, only one of which was an iPad one. The week before that was iPad-heavy, but still had 3 of 7 reviews being for the iPhone, and the week before that had 6 iPhone reviews and 3 iPad ones.

Hayat says:

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killakow says:

@BBYM What u can't afford $2??

BBYM#IM says:

@ killer I said the game is not worth it for 2 bucks! That doesn't mean I can't afford it. Next time before u post something learn how to read and understand!

Bima says:

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aimz says:

I'll stick with the Arcade Bowling app that's REAL skee-ball action.

Rene Ritchie says:

@BBYM is correct, Ramp Champ is worth a lot more than $2. Unfortunately, a mix of developers racing to the bottom and user entitlement has created too much downward pressure on prices, and we'll soon reach a point where great developers just give up on making great applications.
Then users will complain that the app store is flooded with nothing but $0.99 CrApps, and have only themselves to blame.
Maybe a few premium apps will return at that point to fill the gaping hole, not sure what it means for the iPhone as a flagship platform however... :(

fastlane says:

I want a Throw Shoes at Bush game.

Simo says:

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Shadax says:

BBYM is correct. It IS NOT worth $2 because it would BARELY be worth 50 cents. Try playing "Skee-Ball" by Graveck and you'll know exactly what I mean. Ramp Champ has SERIOUS physics flaws and the graphics are just barely par compared to Graveck's simpler idea (which in itself still is far from perfect). The balls are actually 3 dimensional and you have much more leeway to guide your shot in terms of speed, direction and curvature. It just doesn't feel nearly as cheap and half-assed as ramp champ. No thanks.
@Rene Ritchie, some apps I am definitely surprised that they cost so little, so I see your point. GeoDefense swarm, field runners, and Dungeon Hunter are some games to name a few, but Ramp Champ is not one of them. It's a waste of 200 Lincolns.

Vishnu says:

Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the aemssge home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A great read. Ill definitely be back.

Noah R says:

I've got to agree - I WANT to like it, but the physics modeling is ... lacking. The design ethos is AWESOME, but the game itself falls short, and gameplay is the biggest part of a game.