Forgive me for reviewing yet another Amazon AppStore exclusive, but it’s too good, and at one point, was free. It’s Glow Hockey 2, a sequel to what many consider the absolute best air hockey game yet. The sequel certainly is beautiful, but is it just as good?
Air Hockey. ‘Nuff said.
I think everyone knows how to play air hockey, but here’s a refresher: you have a paddle and are set to defend the goal at your side of the table from a puck while trying to get the puck into your opponent’s goal. First one to seven wins, and hitting the puck into your own goal is a score for them. (I’ve always hated that, personally.)
You control your puck with your finger, of course, flinging it around in hopes of getting it around your opponent’s paddle. If you do score, the puck appears on your opponent’s side of the ball, natch, an vice versa. It’s as simple as that, folks: air hockey.
The physics are as realistic as they’ll get for this type of game, though I’ve always said it’s kind of hard to screw up air hockey if you know what you’re doing. The game is quite fun until you realize that your AI opponent can only react to so many different moves. After a while, you kind of own the competition and you won’t be able to tell the difference between easy mode and hard mode.
This is where playing a second player would come in quite handy, and they afford users that option. You can select 2 player mode and get a friend to join you, but you both need to be playing on the same device. This can get quite problematic for folks with smaller screens. We imagine folks will have a much easier time on a tablet. I would have hoped for an ad-hoc wireless mode at least, but there is no wireless/online functionality whatsoever.
I took to championship mode to see if I could get better competition, but it doesn’t appear to be a mode with much substance. Through 10 levels, I’ve been able to beat the last opponent just as easily as the first. At the end of the day, championship mode is quite useless – you’re better off just playing alone.
What I do like about the game, aside from its graphics (which we’ll get to in the presentation section), is the customization. You get a number of different table themes, ranging from street hockey to soccer, an air hockey table to a doodle-inspired one and more. You also get a decent selection of puck and paddle customizations for each table. These are only aesthetically different, though, so don’t expect powerups, special properties or anything of the sort.
As I already said, the title is visually pleasing, and that’s about the best thing it has going for it. Sides of the table glow when the puck hits them, with an optional particle effect making things look even prettier. The pucks, tables and paddles are all high in detail and quality. You can get a realistic looking paddle and puck on an actual air hockey table, or dreamy, colorful and glowing pieces on the glow table (hence the name Glow Hockey).
Unfortunately, the game’s looks are pretty taxing on resources. I can’t imagine folks with a G1 or other slow phones will have an easy time. Even with my Galaxy S, the game would stutter after a while. This obviously affects gameplay and makes it difficult to see where the ball is going and even where your paddle is going. You can improve performance by turning off particle effects, fortunately. I recommend turning off services and exiting apps you don’t need before playing.
As for sound, it’s what I said about gameplay – it’s hard to screw up air hockey. It sounds accurate, clean, crisp and true to the tables you’ll find in bars and recreation centers.
There’s not much here unless you’re an air hockey fan, and that’s to be expected. Two player mode is great, but the fun may not last long on small devices as the players will surely get uncomfortable or frustrated trying to work around each other’s fingers. (This could be a blast after a few beers, though.) There’s not much after-market value you can add to an air hockey game, though, so I won’t chastise the developers for a lack of new content. This game will last you as long as you can stand it.
I love air hockey, but no video game will ever be as good as playing it for real. There’s nothing like standing at a table with a paddle ready to take on whoever’s standing across from you. Glow Hockey 2 tries to emulate the experience, but the AI ruins an otherwise fantastic game. It’s way too easy to win games, and the only human opponents you are allowed to have are those standing on the other side of your phone or tablet. Unfortunately, it’s not often you can get someone to play against you if you’re craving a quick game or two.
It’s a beautiful game, but there isn’t much substance and I wouldn’t count on it being the ultimate time waster. It won’t cure your boredom because the predictive AI will certainly bore you after a few short minutes. You can find Glow Hockey 2 Pro for $2 exclusively from the Amazon AppStore. The free version is available on the Android market, but has limited table themes.