I won’t lie – when I go to a carnival I’m cheap. One of the things I don’t normally do is shell out the cash for the type of game where you have to throw things, shoot things, or generally try to rearrange things via foreign projectiles in order to win presents. I’d rather spend 5 bucks buying a toy at Wal-Mart, because it saves me both time and embarrassment. However, I’ve always found the concept intriguing, and now thanks to Skyworks I can live out these moments in the privacy of my own home with some pretty slick little county fair style games that are actually fun. I still can’t seem to win the big prizes, but at least no one can see me fail now.
Boardwalk Games is comprised of 3 mini-games: Balloon Safari, Tiki Toss and Spill Da Milk. Balloon Safari is definitely the most diverse of the three games, but is actually my least favorite, just because the controls are a bit off compared to the other ones. I’m sure it’s because they are trying to accurately simulate the flight of the darts, but it drives me nuts. In other words, I’m no good at it. At any rate, no matter which game you pick the control scheme is roughly the same. You press on the object you wish you throw and drag it around the screen. When the targeting circle encompasses the object you wish to hit you let go of the screen. There almost always seems to be a little bit of variance between where you thought you let go and where the object actually flies, but this is most noticeable when it comes to Balloon Safari. Also, if you have any kind of covering that makes the bottom edge of your device a little “fatter”, you might find it somewhat challenging to hit the bottom row of Tikis in Tiki Toss.
Each game has two modes. Quick Play mode for any of the games is basically a “score as many points as you can until time runs out” mode. Personally, I’m not a big fan of this mode no matter which game you’re talking about. I like the Progressive mode. For Tiki Toss and Spill Da Milk, each level of progressive mode requires you to score a certain number of points within a time limit in order to progress to the next level. In Tiki Toss a randomly selected Tiki will become the “bonus points” Tiki for a few seconds, and this job will continually rotate as time wears down. It’s in your best interest to hit as many bonus point Tikis as you can. In Spill Da Milk you occasionally get a brown colored milk bottle, which gives you some extra time, or a green colored bottle, which awards you extra points. Spill Da Milk has an extra little caveat in that even if you’ve knocked all the bottles down at a particular table, the table won’t be reloaded until all the bottles have actually rolled off the table.
When playing in Progressive mode for Balloon Safari it’s like playing 3 mini-games within a mini-game. In the first level you simply need to score as many points as you can by popping balloons. In level 2 you must pop groups of balloons in order to get points. For example, if the first balloon you pop is red, you must pop another red balloon in order to get any score for that sequence. A missed shot will not break the sequence, but hitting a different colored balloon will. The final level for each set is a matching game, as each balloon on the board has a picture of an animal behind it. Every time you match two animals correctly all the rest of the pictures that are left will be shown briefly. If at all possible, the best course is to find one pair during that brief reveal so that you can keep progressing in the level. You’ll keep cycling through these three types of levels until you fail to complete one.
All of the games look good graphically, but I’d say my favorite is the Tiki Toss. Each of the Tikis is animated when they are selected as the bonus points tiki, whether it entails them sticking out their tongue or having their eyes glow. Plus, I like how the shelves rock and the cloth flap behind the tikis ripples when you hit it. Spill Da Milk is kind of plain (how much can you do with Milk bottles?) though I do really like the backdrop which has a couple of cows that look like they are suffering from the Tom & Jerry version of mad cow disease. The Balloon Safari is okay, but nothing in that game really sticks out as being nifty.
I’m really impressed with the sound effects in this game. From the clank of the milk bottles to the popping of balloons, everything sounds authentic. The one that gets me the most, however, is Tiki Toss. Hitting a tiki sounds different than hitting a shelf, which also sounds different than hitting the backdrop. A lot of times in games like this they tend to skimp on such distinctions, but the attention to detail here adds greatly to the authenticity of the game. If you closed your eyes, you could almost picture yourself actually being at a fair. All we need is the smell of funnel cakes and some hollering “step right up!” The music is also very well done. The music that plays while you’re “wandering the boardwalk” makes you feel like you’re trudging around a carnival, though it could use the sound of a roller coaster to be complete. Each of the games has their own track as well, which is actually kind of unusual for a Skyworks game, and is greatly appreciated.
Overall I’d have to say that Boardwalk Games is one of my favorite Skyworks games. The attention to detail, especially when it comes to sound, is some of the best I’ve seen from them. The mini-games are fun, and it’s a challenge to try and find ways to better your score every time you play. There’s even a secret spot on each game that you can hit to increase your time by ten seconds. Little touches like that tend to impress me. I will probably still never plop down $10 to try and knock down milk cans in real life, but don’t be surprised if you find me testing my luck on this virtual boardwalk every now and again.