Physics based puzzle games have – ever since the advent of Angry Birds – been a dime a dozen on the iOS marketplace, and Bitse Game’s Gentlemen… Ricochet! (out now, $0.99) aims to be one more entry on that list. In it you will travel to the houses of various top hat wearing gentlemen, including one vegetarian dinosaur, and play a bizarre version of shuffle puck upon their many obstacle course laden tables. The scoring system – as with many other similar titles – is based on how many of the three stars you can pick up along the way, with an additional trophy awarded if you can furthermore do it without going over par.
Your puck – which is able to be freely positioned anywhere in the starting area – can be fired in the full range of 360 degrees, with angle and momentum controlled by dragging your finger across the screen. As the puck itself is rather small – especially if you’re not on an iPad – it’s nice that you can initiate this dragging motion from anywhere, but the game is notoriously prone to incorrectly assuming you were trying to do this whenever you actually wanted to manually drag the puck itself. If the controls to the game had stopped there – or at least been better implemented – then Gentlemen… Ricochet!’s score would probably have been at least half a point higher, if not more.
The biggest problem with the controls involves the magnetic plates set around each of the game’s various challenge tables, and any play attempt will end in automatic failure – even if you’re still under par – if the puck ever comes to rest anywhere other than these hotspots. The catch is that these plates only activate if you touch them with your finger, and – most annoyingly – only if you tap one of them precisely while the careening puck is presently on top of it. As you’ll probably be holding the iDevice with one of your hands, and the puck will often be going very fast, this means you’ll sometimes have difficulty getting your finger over to the magnetic plate in time.
Since you not only have to control the angle and power behind each shot – but the starting location as well – it can be very difficult to precisely set up a shot, even if you know exactly what you’re doing. So to have the third of three shots – all of which need to be done precisely – fail because you tapped the plate too early is profoundly frustrating, especially since the game sometimes randomly crashes when you tap the magnetic plate. Oh – and I should further point out – the target end zone for each of Gentlemen… Ricochet!’s levels also follows these rules, meaning you can even whiff a plate activation at the eleventh hour.
Where as many of Gentlemen Ricochet’s contemporaries have amused players with their colorfully whimsical presentation and conceits, the only thing that this game has going for it is the faux British dialect the various challengers speak with. While there are certainly new elements added as you go along – such as flimsy wooden barriers that break whenever the puck collides into them, spring loaded punching gloves, and other what-not – they do little to liven the place up. There are also alternate pucks that can be unlocked by meeting various conditions – quite a few of which involve massive quantities of failing – but they generally aren’t that interesting, and certainly add no helpful perks.
Gentlemen… Ricochet! is therefore a somewhat bland game that – thanks in part to the controls giving players an extra chance to fail whenever they finally do get their shots to line up – simply isn’t worth the asking price, at least not unless they overhaul it at some point in the future.
iFanzine Verdict: In an environment filled to the gills with physics based puzzle games of all shapes and sizes, a bland one – with controls designed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory – really doesn’t have much of a place on the iOS market. It may be cheap, but there are so many games – both paid and freemium – that are by and large superior options to everything that is offered in Gentlemen… Ricochet! There is a chance – at least – that the game will become tolerable if the controls can be patched into something more tenable, but whether or not that occurs is entirely up to the developers at Bitse Games.