I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this game. When I read PocketMonkey Games’ description of “King of the Hill meets Castle Defense” I thought to myself ‘what does some drunk 21st century Archie Bunker wannabe have to do with guarding a castle?’ Having now played the game I blush slightly in realizing that they weren’t referring to the Fox cartoon in any way, but rather the old kids’ recess game where one person dominates a spot (usually a hill, hence the name) and everyone else has to try and knock them off. Unlike the children’s game, though, Finger Sling is quite addictive.
In the middle of the playing field is a white ball. This is the king of the hill. A white circle around the king designates the kingdom – or “hill” if you so desire. Brown balls will charge the center of the screen from all directions, trying to dethrone the white ball by knocking it out of the ring. They’re not actually greedy enough to take the position for themselves, mind you. I guess they just want an anarchistic society. As with any good king, the white ball won’t give up without a fight. Of course, just like any good leader, it’s also not going to do the fighting on its own. That’s where you come in. With your disc-and-ball elastic weapon, you are the protector of the king of the hill. How long can you last?
You control the action by flicking the disc part of your weapon around the screen. The ball part of your weapon is attached to the disc via an elastic band, and as a result tends to follow it around rather closely. Neither the ball nor the disc can hit the king, and the disc can’t hit the brown balls. Your ball, however, can hit the brown balls, and brown balls can hit each other as well as the king. Your goal is to fling the disc just right so that your ball will knock the brown balls away from the king. Of course, you have to take into account things like the bounce of the elastic tether and the fact that your ball will ricochet off the brown balls, which could cause you to inadvertently hit another brown ball and send it towards the king instead of away from it. I won’t say that there is overly deep strategy involved, but there is definitely some strategy involved.
As you knock the brown balls around the arena you’ll earn points. The harder you hit a ball, the more points you’ll get. At the end of each level you can spend those points on one of four upgrades. Speed will allow you to fling your weapon around the playing field more quickly. Size makes the ball part of your weapon bigger so that it’s easier to attack the brown balls. The last two are a bit fuzzy to me. I would suppose that Boundary Size would increase the size of the kingdom, while Target Size should decrease the size of the king. However, as I upgrade those two items I don’t seem much changing visually. I don’t know if it’s just that I don’t have a very discerning eye or if those two upgrades don’t work the way I expect, but it’s a minor issue that doesn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the game.
Visually the game is quite appealing, partially due to its simplicity. The playing field has a bit of a bamboo look to it, and the balls are, well, balls. The only real special effect is a spark if you hit the brown balls hard enough, and aside from the balls actually rolling around the playing field, the only real animation is when the elastic band kicks in and your ball bounces a bit. Sound effects are basically reserved for the clack of the balls hitting each other, but it sure leaves me with a vivid impression of someone actually sitting in a room somewhere playing a real, non-electronic version of this game. There is no music, though you can listen to your own music on your device if you wish. I would have liked to hear some nice, subtle background music, but I’ve actually gotten used to the lack of noise while playing the game.
I think what really appeals to me about Finger Sling is it feels like a game that you’d see being played in the middle of a street somewhere by a bunch of grade school kids that are best friends. It just has a real fun quality about it. Finger Sling can also be quite challenging, especially when it comes to not inadvertently causing the king to get knocked out of the circle due to a misdirected brown ball. The difficulty of each new level grows at just the right pace, and overall the game feels nicely balanced. Finger Sling is the kind of unique, fun and simple game that we need to see a lot more of in the App Store.