This past month and a half, I have been playing and testing out disc golf game apps for the iPhone. One of the latest ones I’ve been trying out is called Around the Rock Disc Golf Challenge by Tribaloid Games. I first found out about these guys through their twitter account, @ATRDiscGolf. Curious, I looked them up and found out what “Around The Rock Disc Golf” actually was. It looked like a pretty sweet arcade-style disc golf game from the few screenshots I saw. With the Daylight Savings Time ending and winter ahead, my discgolf-round-after-work would no longer be an option. I hate having to wait until the weekends to play now, but hey, I’m thankful that I can even do that! Anyways I was looking for an addictive disc golf app that I could play on these evenings after a long day at work. I had to check this one out.
At the time of downloading, I still had my old iPhone 3GS. I did not realize until later on that this game was optimized for the new iPhone 5. So I was confused when I first launched the game and noticed everything was blown up and hanging off the edges of the screen. How in the world was I supposed to play? Frustrated, I turned back to the app store to read the reviews/description for it and read that part about the optimization. Well, I was in luck. I had just so happened to upgrade to the iPhone 5 a few weeks prior and was waiting its arrival. So I wanted to delay this review until I gave it a fair shot on my new phone. Got my phone. So here goes..
At the home screen I was welcomed with subtle animations in the background and NO music ambience—which I actually preferred. A previous disc golf game I reviewed had an annoying melody bit playing on the home screen that I was immediately put off by. Turn me off from the beginning and more than likely I’ll feel the same throughout the experience. So, yes, I was pleased to not have music on the home screen. A hovering, spinning island-like green in the air? This looks interesting. I’m hooked so far. Let’s start with Practice mode (and it says “Make Aces”..I like the sound of that).
First pop-up, instructions, YES! I’ve find the lack of this often in games and apps. I need to know how to play! So where’s the instructions?! Ya know? Usually it’s tucked away somewhere or not even there period. I was glad to see instructions popup immediately without having to search for them. I felt like they could have been a little larger on the screen, but at least they’re there. Oo I like this screen—definitely the arcade look, but this looks like the ultimate “disc golf dream”…Disc Golf Heaven?
Prepping to Throw:
Subtle wind noise, birds and crickets chirping fill the air. The blue compass indicator at the top of the screen is your directional pad/aim. Move this around to adjust for the wind and height of your throw. Next, you need to figure out how much power/disc you will need for your shot. This is indicated by a vertical scroller bar on the right side of the screen. Slide your finger up and down this to adjust the level of power. The lower the slider bar is, the lighter and less power (putter) the shot will be. For a driver, raise the slider bar towards the top. Anything in the middle would be like throwing your midrange. Pay attention to the distance to the basket in the bottom right of the screen. This will help in determining the amount of power you’ll need. I like how the location of the basket is indicated with rotating skyhigh yellow vertical lines. It’s easy to see way off in the distance (and times that the basket is located behind trees that block your line of view.) To actually throw, hold your finger on the red disc then quickly slide your finger up towards the top of the screen and release! Figuring out the windage, amount of power, and release point will take some practice. I like how it involves some physics and math so you’re not aceing every shot. If it’s that easy, what fun is that?
Ok I think I’ve got my throwing down for the most part, now let’s go try this Tournament mode. Wait..how do you quick Practice mode?? I’m only like 8 holes in. Do I really have to finish all 18 just to get back to the main menu screen? I don’t like that part of it. There should be an in-screen menu icon somewhere that I can click to easily quit. Please let me know if there is and I’m just overlooking it. Anyways, I had to double-tap my home button to get back to my phone’s home screen, close out the app, then restart it.
Now in Tournament mode, let’s discuss approach shots. Approach shots are set up just like your teepad shots. You have your wind indicator, power meter and distance to the basket showing. Depending on your tee shot went and the distance left to basket, you might need to power down on your power meter indicator. This is where you might need to move the indicator bar closer to the middle for a mid-range throw. Pay attention to the wind direction in relation to your basket position. Unfortunately I had a bad tee shot, which left me sitting right behind a big tree. Luckily the wind direction is in my favor so I’m going to angle this one up and to the right to allow my disc to curve around the tree back towards the basket.
Before teeing off on the next hole, pay close attention to the hole overview in the upper left corner. Most holes have multiple “floating islands”. You must land on one of these or else it’s Out of Bounds! Sometimes you will have to lay up because a full power throw might not necessarily get you to the second island. On the hole overview, you can see your current position indicated by a red dot and the basket’s position being a yellow dot.
Much the same as the first two, except for close-range shots you will need to downpower your throws and aim. The aiming target arrows place more eye-level with the basket. Adjust for slight windage if necessary. Pull your power level indicator bar almost all the way to the bottom to use your putter. Aim and fire away! Hopefully you heard chains on that one.
Try your best to stay out of and away from trees. I did notice a glitch when you land right up on a tree. Sometimes your next shot, the tree will cut into your view of the disc/basket. Gameplay-wise it won’t affect your throw, but mentally you’ll be throwing to a blind target.
I really enjoyed the arcade-style of the game as well as the graphics. Funky trees and funky floating islands make for an enjoyable sky-high, disc golf adventure in the clouds. Big plus on the rotating, tall yellow vertical beams that surround the hole. This makes it much easier to find the basket on those twisty holes with towering trees. I even liked the added “wisp” wind trail that follows the disc after each throw. And of course the added instructional graphic at the very beginning was a nice touch.
Like I mentioned earlier, very glad to not hear some cheesy intro tune at the main menu home screen. Sound effects sounded pretty good throughout my playing experience. During gameplay there was the subtle wind noise, birds and crickets chirping in the background which made for a nice outdoor ambiance. If I closed my eyes, it truly sounded like I was outdoors playing DG at my home course. Kudos there. And the sound we all love to hear, the rattling of the chains.
Overall I very much enjoyed this disc golf game. It’s what I would consider to be the first arcade style of disc golf game that I’ve played/reviewed. It is challenging to say the least! I like having to guess how far my throws will go with the power indicator. It’s measured on a 9.6-12.5 meter—which I still not sure where that number range came from. Trying to figure out the right power level and correct aim will always have you coming back for more, practicing and honing in on your skills. It’s addictive enough because it’s challenging. I don’t like anything too easy, because one you beat or do awesome, then what?
My final thoughts to these guys that I feel did a really good job on the game! I feel like these few critique tips could help really put their app over the edge.
– Larger instructional graphic. There’s plenty of space on this screen that’s not utilized for the sake of the actual instructions. Having an iPhone 5, I found some of it difficult to read clearly.
– An in-screen menu. There needs to be a way to quit the game when you’re in Practice or Tournament mode. I don’t think you should have to finish all 18 holes just to get back to the main menu home screen. Hopefully, it’s there and I’m just overlooking it.
– Stuck in the Trees/View Glitch. I don’t know if there’s a way to fix this or not. But when you land in/behind a tree, your next shot is blocked by the limbs cutting into the disc/view of the basket. Nonetheless, it’ll teach you to stay as far away from the trees as possible!
» Go download Around the Rock Disc Golf now in the Apple Store for only $0.99!
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