Disc Drivin' for iPhone and iPad
Asynchronous turn-based games—those apps in which you and an opponent trade turns in a game that unfolds at a pace of your choosing—have proven to be a popular addition to the iOS App Store. But Disc Drivin’ may prove that even the most popular format has its limitations.
Both the iPhone game and its iPad counterpart, Disc Drivin’ HD, put you in control of a disc as you race around a track. (The game offers a variety of tracks, and they all look pretty good, especially if you’ve got a device with a Retina display.) When I say “race,” though, I don’t mean to suggest a fast-paced contest involving breakneck speeds; instead, owning to the game’s turn-based style of play, you use your finger to push your disc down the track and then wait patiently for your opponent (or opponents) to do likewise before you can move again. That can be anywhere from a matter of minutes to days on end. Pulse-pounding, it is not.
Disc Drivin’ looks to up the action with a series of power-ups—lightning bolts that will propel you further down the track, for example—or obstacles such as oil slicks and water hazards that can slow your progress down. You also build up your power gauge as you advance down the track, and when it’s full, you can tap a button to either give yourself an extra boost, leap over some of those on-track obstacles, or leave a few hazards in your wake for opponents to discover.
How much you enjoy Disc Drivin’ will likely depend on which style of game you play. You can find a random online opponent, but that will likely limit you to just a head-to-head race. Other options include inviting friends who’ve also got Disc Drivin’ on their iPhones or iPads. The game supports races over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on a local network, as well as a pass-and-play mode on a single device. You can race up to eight people in local games and four in online matches. Disc Drivin’ supports up to 20 separate races at once.
If you’re racing against a friend or someone who takes their turn at a pretty snappy pace, you’ll likely enjoy Disc Drivin’. I also enjoyed multiplayer races more than head-to-head contests when I tested the game. But unlike word games (think Words with Friends), drawing contests (Draw Something) or even Battleship knock-offs, racing games don’t really lend themselves to a deliberate, turn-based approach. When I make a move in Disc Drivin’, I want to keep playing, lest I lose track of where I am on the board; instead, I have to wait for everyone to take their turn, and in some games, that means a pretty long wait. Throw in the fact that races in Disc Drivin’ are three laps, and you have a recipe for tedium.
I’d feel more warmly about the game if there were a practice mode. Disc Drivin’ courses can be pretty challenging, particularly those with a lot of twists and turns. And without a chance to take your disc out for a test run or two, you can find yourself going nowhere fast. Bumping into walls, careening off the course, or ricocheting backward becomes particularly frustrating when you realize you won’t get a chance to make up for your poor turn for hours or days. (Pro tip: I use the pass-and-play mode as a de facto practice mode, which has improved my racing ability dramatically.)
Disc Drivin’ has more than its share of enthusiastic players, and I’m glad that Pixelocity Software’s game appeals to them. But it really doesn’t work for me, not in its drawn-out turn-based format. You can test out a free, ad-supported version of the game to see if you can live with its sometime excruciating pace. Me, I prefer to live life in the fast lane.
[Philip Michaels is the managing editor of TechHive Media and a frequent app reviewer for Macworld.]