Play Traditional Bilboquet on Your iPhone

Price: $.99    Score: 5/10     By M. SchustermanToucHotel

This app is kind of a tough one for me to explain, not in the least because I’ve never played the original, real version.

Bilboquet, an app by Phenom Studios, is based on the ancient French game (also known as Kendama in Japan) in which you have a sort of hammer with a ball attached, and you try to catch and impale the ball on the stick. Of course, that means Bilboquet uses the iPhone’s accelerometer and tilt features for gameplay.

Unfortunately, either it simply doesn’t work or it isn’t very intuitive. I lost count of how many times I started a new game, holding my iPhone with both hands to improve balance as the app suggested, and titled, turned and rotated my iPhone every which way, with no success.

Once the game starts, the ball is flying and you can (supposedly) control it to try and hit the stick. I tried tilting fast, slow, everything I could think of, and nothing I did seemed to have any influence over what was happening on the screen. Once the ball hit the stick and the stick actually moved to the right, but I had done nothing to cause that.

There are five Bilboquets for you to choose from, beginning with the wooden one, then moving through ice, lava, ballcup and kendama, each of which you must unlock. Needless to say, I didn’t get to try any of these, because I couldn’t get past the first level. While I’ll admit I don’t play games regularly on my iPhone, I’m no stranger to games that use tilt and accelerometer, and have had little issues with them in the past. I’m left to wonder if this is the design itself or something that will be worked out in future versions.

Bilboquet [iTunes link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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