iOS Roundup: Roll, scratch, push, slide, love, party

October 9, 2011

This week, we’re rockin’ the turntables in Skillz and rollin’ the ball in Katamari Amore.

Skillz: The DJ Game (iPad): While the plastic-instrument game market has crashed and burned, iOS games have been more than happy to take up the rhythm mantle. Skillz, developed by Playpen Studios, is a game designed for those who loved DJ Hero but want something new. And this sucker’s not easy. We’re talking six buttons to hit, a slider to push and pull and two turntables to scratch.

While it may not have the visceral appeal of the Hero games, Skillz does a pretty good job of replicating a feel on a touch screen. The mixes are licensed, which is nice, though it feels like they’re a bit simpler and less song-like than something you’d hear from a real DJ. You’re largely triggering short audio clips. That’s not what holds Skillz back, though. There’s just a huge difficulty curve here, and while you can play on low difficulty settings and manage, it’s clearly designed for the pros. Experts may really love this one, though. Luckily, there’s a free version to give you a test drive, and we suggest you take one.  4/5

Katamari Amore (Universal): We’ve seen console ports before, and most jut don’t take the transition well. Katamari, though, seems like a property that could do fine on lower system specs and with less-detailed controls. We just don’t think they’ve gotten it right yet. In the second outing on iOS (and the first universal one), Amore tries to replicate the console experience and misses in a few key ways.

The control options are numerous, but things work much better when opting for the console’s dual-analog style. Even then, the precision is just not there, and with the turnaround function mapped to a separate button, just navigating the area becomes frustrating. The worlds and dialogue are reminiscent of the console, which is good, but then you start noticing that it’s all largely recycled and it’s less appealing. Add in a freemium model that locks levels behind individual paid packs, and the immersive, escapist fun of a Katamari game is just gone. 2/5

Is there an iOS game you’d like us to take a look at? Send an email to editors[at]