Holedown is a neat little arcade game on iOS where you throw balls to break blocks and reach the core of various celestial bodies. Balls rebound on blocks and destroy them by progressively hitting them. You have a limited number of shots and you get more balls per shot - up to a maximum - by bouncing around. Each time you make a shot, the level shifts upwards and if it ever reaches the top, you lose. If you feel like if you’ve heard of games like this one before, you’re right, however, this one is solely premium and doesn’t have any microtransactions. I had a few frustrations with it, but otherwise enjoyed this one.

The game starts fairly simple, you have a field with blocks, the blocks are numbered ‘1’ which means that they break in one hit. You move your finger on the screen to aim and then release to shoot, a few balls fly away and hit the blocks, when they go back up or bounce back and forth without hitting anything for too long, the balls go back up. I have a few issues with the core ball throwing and bouncing system; I wish the line the game drew would show more bounces to help aim your shots, it’s really frustrating to fire fifty shots and hit nothing because the balls bounce weirdly. I also wish the game would be more generous with the automatic removal of ‘infinitely bouncing’ balls, because sometimes they were just going slowly down the map and the game decided that it was over for them. Finally, I wish there was something to alter their trajectory slightly mid shot. Some powerup to make your balls split when they hit something or a way to change their direction, because most of my frustrations came when I thought I had a good shot but I just had to watch nothing great happening.

Certain blocks support others, if you destroy them everything above them gets automatically destroyed, which is useful since the numbers -really- go up as you play the game. Other blocks contain crystals that you can use to upgrade your abilities. If you make it to the bottom of a level, there’s a core that needs a bigger number of hits to be destroyed, but ultimately is a very easy affair since you can make your shots ricochet on it quite a few times and it always is the same immobile giant orb. The upgrades include firing more balls per shot, having more shots, being able to access more levels and having an increased crystal capacity - thankfully all the crystals you get from cores can be collected. I kinda wish there were more esoteric upgrades. But as it is, Holedown does its thing well, so the limited scope doesn’t hurt it for me too much.

Ultimately I got to the last level - which is an endless mode - and once I upgraded everything to maximum, the upgrades felt a bit useless. The difficulty ramps up pretty fast, with numbers going pretty high and sometimes you just can’t win depending if you fail to line your shots. Still, I had a good time with Holedown, the fact that it is a complete game with a tight set of core mechanics was pretty enjoyable for once. I just wish there was a little bit more to it. Still, delightful!

AuthorJérémie Tessier