Boardwalk Ball Toss Review
Posted by Zach Kaplan
Not quite as big a rip-off as the real thing
For as long as humans have stacked milk bottles in pyramid formations, people have yearned to topple them. Salvation for these individuals came by way of the carnival – but what's a toppling enthusiast to do on the walk home, or on the bus the next day? Enter Boardwalk Ball Toss, the perfect solution for such a predicament. It comes to us from Skyworks, creators of the Arcade series of DSiWare and iOS titles including the very similar Arcade Hoops Basketball. So what makes this entry special? The answer: very little.
The extremely simple mechanic that serves as a foundation for the gameplay is that of flicking the stylus in the correct direction and at the correct strength to knock down one of three stacks of milk bottles. It's fun enough as it requires a degree of skill, and the physics are competent, so it's quite likely that with the correct supporting cast of elements like creative level design, challenges to face and bonuses to win, this far from complex but not wholly un-entertaining basis could go far. Unfortunately, those things are just not here.
There are two modes of play, Classic and Progressive. The former has you toss your baseballs at three stacks of three milk bottles, both of which self-regenerate as you play. This mode only goes for one timed round, but the latter, as you might expect, continues after the buzzer. It gives you a point goal to meet each time and varies the stacks between three and six bottles each. Unfortunately, for a progressive mode it's not terribly progressive – while the objective score gets tougher to accomplish and the stacks begin to tend towards three bottles only, that's it. No interesting formations, no moving targets, nothing further away or closer, no heavier or lighter balls, no breeze to combat, nothing. There is a laundry list of ways that the developers could have kept things interesting, but instead you'll see yourself face the same thing over and over with almost no variation.
Salvaging this title to some degree are the bonus bottles – green gives you more time, gold gives you more points. That the idea of such variants was present in development makes it even more disappointing that further innovation wasn't introduced as these additions noticeably improve the entertainment value. There are local leaderboards for both modes as well, and you'll win prizes after each successful game that decorate the background even after you shut it off and come back, giving the title some replay value.
The presentation is lacklustre. There's a cheery illustration of some cartoony cows behind the bottles that lends a fun atmosphere, but it stays the same game after game and again, never swapping for other drawings – another missed opportunity. You'll likely mute it quickly as well as the same well-compressed but extremely repetitive guitar-based tune plays nonstop, and the clatter of baseballs against the backdrop becomes obnoxious quite quickly.
Boardwalk Ball Toss takes a fun but simple mechanic and does very little to build an entertaining experience around it, providing far too little variation or progression to keep things interesting. Even for a budget title this is bland, and while it's somewhat fun in short bursts, the extremely repetitive gameplay will begin to feel less like tossing balls at bottles and more like tossing your money and time in the waste bin.