The multi-touch interface of the iPhone has been taken advantage of by many game developers; up there with the best is Illusion Labs and their finger-boarding game, Touchgrind. With an excellent physics engine and superb use of the multi-touch capabilities, Touchgrind has you ollie-ing around the park with a bit of practice.
Players place one finger at the back of the board, and another on the centre to replicate a skater’s legs, and then maneuver the fingers in a variety of ways to perform spins, flips and grinds. With a realistic physics engine, flicking your fingers at the wrong angle or clipping an object can have rather realistic effects that may flip your board over, or knock it onto its wheels. Don’t be fooled by its simple instructions though, skating well is no easy task, and can take a few sessions to get the hang of.
Beyond the fun game-play and stylised design of the application lies a fairly tough set of challenges. Whilst the “Jam Session” mode allows you to skate without a time limit, recording your highest single-trick score, the “Competition” mode gives you 99 seconds to rack up the largest amount of points you can. Not only does this give the game a tad more depth, the “Competition” mode also allows you to unlock new board designs giving you something to aim for on your sessions in the skate park.
One major and possibly only flaw of this application is the close proximity of the camera to the board. Due to the viewpoint of the player being directly face-down, predicting when a ramp to jump off or a pole to grind on is coming up can be difficult, despite the icon interface that displays close objects that are around you. Needless to say, this flaw doesn’t ruin the game in any way, and in a future update Illusion Labs intends on including a new feature allowing you to simply tap an object icon to align your board accordingly.
With a great level of polish and presentation, along with clear, crisp sound effects, Touchgrind is a great little sandbox game, and currently at a introductory price of only $4.99. Although it has its flaws and not a massive amount of re-playability, most users can find fun experiencing the skater within, be it only for a minute or two at a time.