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Preview: Red Ball Challenge

February 22, 2010 , Posted by App-reciation Reviews at 1:28 AM

Red Ball Challenge - A Preview

A while back now, the BBC announced they were exploring the possibility of producing a significant number of titles based on their perceived 'favourite' franchises. If this latest effort from Tag Games is anything to go by, fans of Doctor Who, Top Gear, Mock The Week et al are going to be very disappointed indeed.

Essentially a mini-game collection in a traditional gameplay structure such as that found in Track And Field, wrapped up in a Total Wipeout skin, Red Ball Challenge is, on the surface, an attractive package. A handful of games showcasing what the TV series has to offer (namely an obstacle course designed to humiliate contestants), a cheap price, plus global score boards, a good selection of customisation options and Bluetooth multiplayer of show favourite The Sweeper.

What the game delivers however is a fairly sloppy title that feels rushed out the door to meet a deadline. Technical shortcomings are Red Ball Challenge's greatest flaw, with a 3D engine clearly unoptimised to run on its host platform. The game stutters at times, ensuring that you'll miss more than your fair share of crucial button presses and load times are frankly unacceptable. The choice to utilise this third dimension also means that the rudimentary collection of polygons that go to make up the uninspired characters within can never hope to match the fairly slick menus of the frontend.

The license is therefore squandered from an in-game presentation point of view, though the game does stick very rigidly to the structure of the show itself. Don't mistake this for praise however, as when you add the aforementioned load times to a game that is constantly broken up with the inane written chatter of its hosts, you end up with an experience that is more 'waiting' than 'playing'. The game even goes so far as to include 'replays' of your failed attempts and when you lose a challenge because the game has failed you, the last thing you want to see is your gormless avatar taking a plunge.

Game engine aside, the controls are fine and make good use of the iPhone's capabilities, though feedback is non-existent, making it difficult to learn from your mistakes. Likewise the sound design is OK, though the effects do feel a little 'stock'.

The lasting impression is that it just feels like no one on the team making this product cared as to what they produced. I could go on about weak collision detection, poor tutorials and the lack of replay value, but ultimately you get the point I'm making here. It's a missed opportunity from Tag, one that could easily have been capitalised on if only the developer had taken inspiration from the numerous number of titles that get this kind of game right.

This article was written by Peter Willington, a freelance video games critic from the UK. Apart from writing for App-reciation Reviews on a part-time basis, Peter is currently a contributing editor for and runs

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