Bastard little circus punks

justin Awesomeness, iPhone/iPod, Vice, Video Games Leave a Comment

I suck at Skee-Ball. There, I’ve said it. I also suck at most carnival-related game (even though all of them are fixed in one manner or another), so I had little hope for Iconfactory and DS Media Labs’ little torture device of an iPhone/iTouch game Ramp Champ.

I’ve been a fan of Iconfactory for a whole mess of years, so the game caught my eye when I was looking for a new time waster a few months ago. I played it a couple of times and then jumped right back to my standby of Bejewelled to numb my brain. A couple of weeks ago, however, I came back to Ramp Champ. I had it in my head that I could earn a few more trophies (three are available per “ramp”) and maybe even earn enough tickets to buy some cool in-game trinkets.

Did I mention I suck at games like this? To date, I have one trophy each in the four ramps that come standard with the game: Clown Town, Breakwater Bay, Space Swarm and the Icon Garden. Wait, I have two in the Icon Garden now (I got you, you bastard Moof). Anyhoo, my lack of being any good at the standard ramps made me venture into some of the expansion ramps that are typically available for a pittance in order to expand my trophy collection. Not only do the new ramps come with new trophies, but they also come with new crap you can buy with your virtual tickets. Sure, it all just ends up being dusty pixels on dusty pixelized shelves, but who am I to laugh in the face of reward-based instant gratification?

The coolest thing about Ramp Champ is the huge variety of little targets that pop up after being knocked down in a certain order. In Grave Danger, for example (part of a Halloween expansion that I just wasn’t going to say no to), depending on which tombstones you knock down determines what pops up. Kill the three tiny stones with crescent moons on them and a moon appears. Hit the moon and a full moon appears along with three wolves. It’s Skee-Ball, so you get nine chances to get all the points you can muster, so I’ve not managed to see what happens past knocking all wolves down.

The real secret is to figure out a way to knock down multiple targets with a single ball. It’s tricky as hell, but there are certain techniques (I like to think) that maximize the potential for double and triple target clearance.

I’ve spent 45 minute jags just doing round after round after round trying to uncover new sections of a ramp while getting so infuriatingly frustrated that I really wanted to throw my phone across the room. To me, that’s the sign of a damn good game. Despite the fact that a trained chimp could probably score thousands of points more than me, I’m not giving up on Ramp Champ.

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