Above all else, the duo behind Mikengreg are masters of the simple sound effect. For Solipskier, the two-man studio delivered the cool thrill of the frosty piste with little more than a whistle of arctic wind and a looping blast of hardcore thrash. With the team’s latest, Gasketball, the knockabout pleasures of backyard basketball are invoked via the hollow thunk of rubber on concrete, and an ascending scale as your points rack up.
Not that Gasketball could truly be considered a basketball game in the first place, of course. Rather, this is a pared-back shot-matching challenge in which you fling your ball through complex 2D gauntlets, rebounding from flippers, slipping in and out of magical portals, and ducking around brisk-spinning saw blades in order to get to the net.
It’s more technical than it sounds, with scores building up if you hit the right surfaces in the right orders, and it’s wonderfully sociable, too, providing g-ballers everywhere with a frantic local one-on-one mode that divides the iPad screen in two, and an asynchronous online offering in which you build levels for other players to beat, before tackling the horrors they’ve constructed in return.
Blending freewheeling creativity with arcade precision (and chucking a decent solo campaign in amongst all the multiplayer elements) Gasketball wraps things up with sweet and personable art design that revels in rich colours, cranky robots and plenty of thick black lines. It’s a smart iOS game that reduces a sport to its basic elements like this – and an even smarter one that can then turn those elements into something that feels entirely new. Three points.