Believe it or not, this redemption arcade game has been around for over 100 years. The question is: will today's whippersnappers with their newfangled contraptions appreciate the timeless classic on their Switchamacallit?
I loves me some Skee-Ball. Even nowadays, I always feel compelled to play a game or two whenever I happen to walk by an arcade. So, when I saw that an officially licensed game found its way onto the Switch eShop, I just had to try it out. Thankfully, it provides simple and surprisingly addictive classic Skee-Ball action. You can either play by adjusting your shot with the sticks then holding a button to roll your next ball or with optional touch controls while undocked (obviously). Whichever way you decide to play, the controls are handled well. That being said, it's much more authentic-feeling while playing with the touch controls so undock your Switch and swipe away! Even though the two control methods work well, I'm disappointed that there are no motion controls while playing docked. That would have provided the most genuine experience so the fact that they didn't include that control scheme is a big missed opportunity.
When it comes to graphics and sound, Skee-Ball both delights and disappoints. For starters, the variety of cabinets all look great which makes the gameplay all the more satisfying. On the other hand, the interface and overall polish is lacking. For example, the aiming arrow looks like it was drawn in Paint. Anyway, the music is toe-tapping yet easy to ignore while the sound effects are what you would expect while playing an actual game of Skee-Ball. In the end, they did a decent job of translating the physical game into virtual form.
Skee-Ball features a wide assortment of unlockable content. The coolest of which is an array of seven cabinets that not only look very distinct, they play completely differently, too. Additionally, you can unlock a total of eight mode variations that don't substantially change the gameplay but they at least add some variety. For example, Speed Ball has you score as many points as possible within two minutes and Wipe Out tasks you with hitting every target on the board. All of that being said, unlocking anything takes far too long as you'll play dozens upon dozens of games before you can unlock anything significant.
There's a level up system, too, but levelling up requires far too much grinding. To assist with this, you can earn or buy power-ups that give you more points. Also, you're assigned a random challenge from time to time and when I say random, I mean random. The requirements to reward ratio is so out of whack. Sometimes, you can complete a seemingly impossible challenge and get an almost worthless power-up while other times, you do something easy and get 500 tickets as a reward. Either way, there's no denying that the challenges and power-ups add an enjoyable layer of complexity to the otherwise straightforward Skee-Ball gameplay.
Now with motion controls!
The recent (and free) update patch for Skee-Ball added a new motion control option. I played with it enabled for a few rounds and I must say, the developers did a decent job. At first, I kept throwing the ball straight up into the air but once I got used to gently rolling the ball with enough force, I seemed to do quite well and even got a couple balls in the 100 hole.
Finally, you'd think that a new Skee-Ball game would have some sort of multiplayer component but nothing of the sort is included here. You could take turns with a friend but one fun part about actual Skee-Ball is that you can play next to a chum and watch each other's scores increase as you compete. That reminds me, there are leaderboards but they're only for total earned tickets which is similar to having leaderboards for total minutes played. In other words, they're completely pointless.
Skee-Ball is a simple and enjoyable arcade classic. However, you'd expect a console version to come with all sorts of bells and whistles and the fact that this doesn't include many means that you're better off playing it in an arcade.
- + Simple and strangely addictive classic Skee-Ball fun with optional touch controls
- + Lots of modes and cabinets to unlock
- + Enjoyable power-ups and challenges
- - No motion controls while docked and no multiplayer modes at all
- - Leaderboards are only for tickets
- - Unlocking stuff takes far too long