3-D Vector Ball (previously “3-D Vector Pong” before Atari went all “Cease and Desist” on everyone) attempts to take a new twist on one of the most beloved games of all time. There have been many Pong clones over the years, so how does Gyrocade‘s variation stand in the pack?
3D Vector Ball takes the standard Pong concept and takes it to the third dimension. The player’s view takes place behind the paddle rather than a top-down view. This definitely takes some getting used to, but the simplicity of this games allows for a quick learning curve. The object of the game, of course, is to hit the ball from your paddle to get it past your opponent’s paddle in the distance. Sometimes it’s a bit hard to judge where the ball is in 3D space, but that’s generally not a huge issue.
Vector Ball has extremely tight tilt controls, which is necessary in a game like this, where quick reactions are key. As you hit the ball back and forth, it increases in speed, requiring some fast reflexes. It also lets you calibrate the tilt before every game. You choose the angle you want to be the center of the paddle. In other words, if you want to play the game from top down, you can. If you want to play the game while lying down, you can! There are so many games that desperately need this feature, but sadly fall short.
The AI in Vector Ball is quite challenging, and it took quite some time for me to beat the Veteran setting. The learning curve is not bad though, as long as you start with the easiest setting and move up. There are only 3 difficulty settings in the game. This means there’s not a lot of play time involved until you’ve beaten all three levels. This is where multiplayer comes into play.
Yes, multiplayer. That other little feature that ALL iPhone games should come with (in my humble opinion…). Vector Ball has it, and it executes it quite well! If you and your friend are on the same network, you can host/join a game together, and play head to head. There is a little lag at the beginning of the game, but after things get going, it’s a blast! You can play as many games as you want continuously until you decide to stop. A fun thing to do to kill time with friends, as long as a wi-fi network is available!
Presentation & Graphics: 7
Vector Ball’s graphics are crisp and clean, with a nice likeness to Tron, and possibly the Wipeout franchise. The frame rate is very smooth. Would have been nice to include different level designs and color options though.
It’s classic Pong sounds. Not much more to say here. The clicks are satisfying enough.
Responsive controls, a smooth frame rate, an excellent calibration option, and a tough AI make this game both challenging and fun – something that’s hard to do in the gaming world. The distance of the ball as it travels too and from your paddle is sometimes hard to determine, but it’s not enough to be frustrating.
Game life: 7
It’s got multiplayer. To me, any game with multiplayer instantly jumps up the score meter – especially when the multiplayer actually works well!
Game rating: 7
3-D Vector Ball takes an aging classic into new territory, and does it well. You won’t find yourself playing this game constantly, but it’s a great party game, or for when you and your iPhone-owning buddies are hanging out. What could have been in a cheap knockoff, is saved by a slick graphics engine, tight controls, and multiplayer capability. Oh yeah, and it’s still cheap!