Flick Champions World Edition for iPhone and iPad
Unless you are reading this from the Olympic Village in London, I’m going to guess that the odds of you one day enjoying Olympic glory are several hundredths of a decimal point removed from “minimal.” Not to worry: Flick Champions World Edition gives you a chance to enjoy some time on the medal stand, and the only muscles you’ll need to exert reside within your index finger.
The iPhone and iPad game, published by Chillingo, offers eight sports and several gameplay modes for showing off your simulated athletic prowess. It’s a fun little app, though your enjoyment can vary wildly from event to event.
You can play a quick game in any of World Edition’s eight sports: running, swimming, handball, javelin, volleyball, kayak, hammer throw, and—I swear I am not including this just to confirm you’re still paying attention—synchronized swimming. Each sport lets you choose from three difficultly levels and gives you several options for optimizing your event. In running, for example, you can toggle between three distances and decide whether to throw hurdles into the mix. Volleyball provides three options for how many points it takes to win a match. There’s a lot of ways to keep yourself entertained.
Other gameplay modes include a championship round in which you compete in four separate events at increasing degrees of difficulty to win a medal, and a tournament-style cup competition for each sport (again with different levels of difficulty). A Daily Challenge gives you three tasks—score a certain number of points, throw the javelin and the hammer a set amount of meters—and 24 hours in which to complete them. Do so, and you rack up experience points and collect tokens.
The tokens are important in Flick Champions World Edition because they can be redeemed for one-time bonuses that the International Olympic Committee might frown on in real life but which can help your block-headed athlete go for the gold. In swimming, you can pay a token to attach a scooter on your swimmer for an extra speed boost, while in javelin, you can opt for a trident that will travel a little farther than your standard equipment. You can use in-app purchases to unlock bonuses and load up on tokens if you like. But if in-app purchases annoy you as much as they do me, you needn’t worry: Winning competitions and playing Flick Champions World Edition will earn you tokens and unlock items in due time.
The game plays about the same on the iPhone as it does on the iPad, though Apple’s tablet affords more room for little details like spectators. You’ve also got more room for the two-player mode on the iPad. Flick Champions splits the screen in two for versus mode, with each player controlling their side. It’s playable on the iPhone, but things feel a lot less cramped on the iPad.
Controls themselves are pretty straightforward, and the game helpfully includes onscreen instructions to remind you where and how to flick and tap. That said, some of the individual events do a better job of implementing the finger-flicking controls. Running and swimming, for example, require you to simply slide your finger back and forth to propel your athlete toward the finish line. Kayak, however, makes you alternate flicks to operate your paddles—a tricky proposition, particularly on the iPhone’s smaller screen. I also found the flicking in the handball game to be less responsive and intuitive than I’d prefer.
Just as the controls vary from game to game, so too will your enjoyment level for each event. Personally, I think the javelin game is just great, the running and swimming events are solid, and the volleyball is surprisingly fun. Kayak, on the other hand, is just too frustrating for me to enjoy, and the synchronized swimming—in which you flick your four swimmers into selected spots on the pool—strikes me as a weird way to pass the time. Your preferences, of course, may be entirely different from mine.
The trick, then, with an app like Flick Champions World Edition is whether there are enough enjoyable events to compensate for the lackluster ones. For me, there are, and the app’s assorted gameplay modes and challenges keep things from getting too dull and predictable. Should Olympic fever has you wanting to chase some medals of your own, then Flick Champions World Edition can satisfy that lust for gold.
[If app reviewing were an Olympic event, TechHive Media managing editor Philip Michaels figures he’d be in line for a bronze.]