Danny Boy for iPhone
At a Glance
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Danny Boy is a soccer-esque game by Reapptive that bears the name of Danny Simpson, a defender for Newcastle United in England’s Premiere League. It’s a ball-kicking, coin-collecting, bird- and trashcan-avoiding challenge that could do with some very basic control improvements.
As our friends at the excellent English football site Who Ate All the Pies point out, Danny Boy bears a striking resemblance to the old SoccerKid game on the Amiga platform. The strategy should be quite familiar to anyone with Mario or Sonic experience: You run straight ahead collecting valuables when available, and either dispatching or avoiding obvious obstacles that slow you down or send you back to the start.
I played the game on my iPhone and found it pretty challenging at first, but not for the right reasons. There are no real instructions other than a legend that points out what the various obstacles and prizes do. There’s no practice area at all. So you’re just thrown head-first into the first level and forced to figure it out. Game on, I guess.
Since the iPhone has limited screen space, your only control options are to fire a soccer ball and jump. Both of those are done by tapping the lower-right or lower-left portion of the screen. You move forward with no control over the speed or direction so you have to be quick with the tap. There’s an endless supply of soccer balls available, so I just left a finger constantly tapping on the kicking portion of the screen and relied on a steady stream of balls to clear my path.
My “scorched earth” policy worked pretty well until I figured out I could also jump multiple times with successive taps using the other finger. You’ll figure this out too, once you come to a seemingly impossible jump across building roofs that are part of the urban landscape setting. I was never able to effectively coordinate the constant tapping of both fingers to produce a consistent behavior in the avatar. When I reached the end of a level, it was usually because I’d just happened to not jump off at a bad time.
Over time, the obstacles and rewards change. You can eventually smash hamburgers (which will slow your speed if you collide with them) and energy drinks (which have the opposite effect). The energy drink charged portion was berserk because it basically sends your avatar into a frenzy.
One of the basic flaws I found in Danny Boy was that if you died in “turbo mode” (brought on by collision with an energy drink), you would then restart the level still in turbo. Same goes for the cheeseburger slow-down—although I found I died a lot less often after eating a cheeseburger.
Since I was constantly firing soccer balls ahead of me, I’d usually collect a ton of coins and various prizes. That part was easy. It’s the navigation that caused problems for me. But reach the end of a level, and you move on to the next one. Finish that stage and go up a notch. There are four stages with eight levels each, leaving a total of 32 combinations.
I’d rate this as a game targeted to a younger audience. The strategy and controls are both simple enough to be figured out by small fingers. But those two simple tasks will be somewhat limiting for advanced users.
I don’t like the fact that you cannot do a quick pause or reverse directions when you come to a tricky obstacle. I think adding some directional controls would enhance the game immensely, and without confusing younger gamers.
[Curt Poff is a product manager for both Macworld and PCWorld. In his off hours, he supports Newcastle.]