iPhone Life magazine

Review: Split Apple by MKO Games

When I was a kid I never really cared for gym, and this feeling intensified when I got to high school.  However, one thing I actually enjoyed was archery, even though I wasn’t very good at it.  Thanks to Split Apple I can relive those “care free” high school days, including my lack of skill at hitting a bull’s eye.  A little bit of variety and the presence of even an AI opponent would certainly help liven up things a bit, but even without that Split Apple is an entertaining little game.

Challenge Mode
 

You are an aspiring archer who happens to have an available back lot where you can practice shooting a bow and arrow.  There are four game play modes: Challenge, Time Trial, Survival and Pop Up.  There’s also a practice mode which is nice because it lets you manually adjust the wind direction and distance from the target, but it doesn’t give you the option to practice with the targets you’ll face in Pop Up mode.  Let’s take a brief look at each mode.

In Challenge mode you’ll face three different types of targets – a stationary one, a target that moves along a pulley, and one that moves and is often blocked by barriers.  You’ll face each target at five foot intervals from 5 to 25 feet, and get 3 arrows for each distance.  Scoring is based on how close to the center you get, with a range of 1 to 10 points and 15 if you hit a bull’s eye.  If you want to be ambitious you can aim towards the tree and earn 30 points if you split an apple.  In Time Trial mode you get a minute on the clock to fire as many arrows as you can at a stationary target on the 15 foot mark.  Extra arrows are earned based on the score of your shot, which is figured the same way as Challenge mode.  In this mode, however, instead of points for an apple you can earn an extra 20 seconds on the clock.  I wish there were another way to earn time, and the ability to play at different distances would be nice, but Time Trial mode is still a lot of fun.

Zoom In To Target
 

Survival mode is Time Trial minus the time limit.  Well, that and an apple earns you two extra arrows instead of bonus time.  You can also earn extra arrows by hitting the target in the yellow area.  On the down side, if you miss the target you lose an additional arrow besides the one you wasted by missing.  The nice thing about this mode is that because it’s not timed, you can potentially play for quite a while as long as you stay in the yellow.  Finally there’s Pop Up mode, which is 22 rounds of shooting three targets that randomly pop up around the screen.  This is the most innovative of the modes, because you never know where the targets are going to be.  As you get further into the rounds targets start moving left to right and swaying from side to side.  Score is least points for a green, more points for a yellow and the most points for a red target, but the actual values differ sometimes and I’m not completely sure why.  I love this mode, but I think I’ve gotten just as good at hitting the posts as the targets themselves.

Control is pretty simple and actually of cool.  A slider on the left allows you to draw back the bow, and you just let you go to shoot.  If you hold on to the shot too long your guy will get tired and take the shot on his own, so instead you can just slide the control back to starting position to cancel the shot.  At some point the game does mention that auto-calibration occurs when you slide back the bow, so in theory you don’t have to worry about awkward tilt moments where you can’t see the screen.  Unfortunately, this isn’t completely the case, but it doesn’t happen often.  To aim you just tilt the device which for the most part works fine, though there were instances where moving around felt a bit sluggish.

Pop Ups Aren't All Bad
 

Split Apple looks great.  From the character himself to background elements like a camper and the rows of buildings, everything is lovingly rendered in 3D.  There are nice little touches like a hole in the fence that surrounds your target area and signs that make the buildings feel not quite so generic.  You can even see arrows sway when they strike an object, including previously shot arrows.  I would definitely say the visuals are the highlight of Split Apple.  The one thing I would like to see is a bit more variety – maybe a second location to shot in or a couple of different outfits to unlock and change into.

The sound effects are interesting.  I don’t know if it’s because of the headphones, but sometimes it feels like some of the background noise isn’t actually coming from the game itself.  When I take the headphones out of my ears the sound goes away, though, so it must be from the game.  It’s cool and creepy at the same time.  Otherwise, the main sound effects are the wooshing of arrows and the car that’s constantly driving around the block in the background.  I do like the fact that your character sighs a bit when pulling back the bow.  The music is decent, but I’m not really sure it fits the game.  Plus, while it’s hard to tell for sure I think there’s only one track for all game play modes.

Time Trial Mode
 

Overall I’ve quite enjoyed the game, though without any opponents it feels more like a set of mini-games than anything.  I feel that I should mention the game did crash on my a couple of times, the net result of which was that I lost a couple of high scores and ended up having to reboot my machine in order to play again.  However, for the most part the game ran fine, and I’ve certainly surpassed those lost scores by now.  If you’re into archery at all or would like to dabble in it without buying a real bow and arrow, this might just satiate your hunger.  If nothing else they do have a lite version to try.

Final Score: 7/10
App Store Link

Notes: A promo code was provided for the purpose of me downloading Split Apple for review. The HD version of the game was reviewed on an iPod Touch 4G running iOS 4.2.1

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.