Not as good as tonsil hockey (or even pocket pool, for that matter), but we'll take it.
Air Hockey comes to the iPhone in the form of Touch Hockey, a free and ad supported video game that simulates one of our favorite pastimes. Publisher FlipSide5 created a decent hockey experience, though a couple strange decisions and a finger flaw makes it more frustrating than fun.
Similar to Air Hockey, the game challenges you to score points by sending a puck into your opponent's goal. Realistic physics and geometry allow you to ricochet it off the board at multiple angles for the score. In addition, you can change the number of points per game (five, seven, nine or 11), toggle sound and replays. You can even play against someone else, either on the same iPhone or via the Internet. To do the former, both players hold the iPhone at the same time and use their fingers to maneuver the blue and red mallets. It's fun, but for whatever reason, the game runs considerably slower than in single player mode. That makes judging puck speed difficult. As for online play, we've tried to get a match, but cannot connect, either because of a faulty network or lack of competition. We also can't figure out how to pause mid match, as repeated screen tapping yields no response.
Although the game is fun in short bursts, frustration set in the moment we realized that our fingers took up a sizable chunk of screen real estate. Because Touch Hockey requires us to press down on a mallet to use it, that means we lose the puck whenever it travels underneath our fingernails. This often leads to accidental goals, and nothing sucks worse than screwing ourselves out of a game.
There's also a delay between button presses, where we'll change an option and then wait a second or two before the game catches up. Furthermore, Touch Hockey is full of ads that pop up at inopportune times, such as before a game or while toggling options. FlipSide5 should have put them right after the title screen.
Touch Hockey is fun for a little while, but accidental goals, annoying ads and a much slower two-player mode make it more curiosity than must play. Seeing as how developers update these apps on a regular basis, perhaps FlipSide5 will fix some of the issues to alleviate our frustration.
What's Hot: Smooth single player game, realistic air hockey physics, two-player mode using a single iPhone.
What's Not: Unable to find opponents online, that two-player mode slows the game down, ads pop up at bad times, fingers on the touch screen obscure the puck and lead to accidental goals, cannot pause mid match without exiting the game.