Skillz for iPad, by indie developer Playpen Studios, is a nearly flawless adaptation of everything we love about rhythm-based console gaming for the iPad. Its combination of Rock Band, djay for iPad, and Tap Tap Revolution is awe-inspiring, and a true jewel in the crown of music games for iOS. If you’re a fan of any of the aforementioned games or iPhone apps, you owe it yourself to fork out the six bucks for Skillz for iPad: The iPad app will have you scratching, flicking, and tapping your way long into the night.
Concept and Gameplay
Skillz for iPad is, believe it or not, most akin to games not residing on the iOS system. The application bears a lot of resemblance to Rock Band and Guitar Hero, allowing players to live out their musical dreams one note at a time. In-game, the user is presented with a ribbon of notes that must be played on time and in step if they want to earn points for their efforts. Only, unlike Rock Band, Skillz for iPad presents this format under the guise of a burgeoning deejay. The interface features all the typical mixing faire, including a crossfader, two decks, and multiple tap pads. It’s a solid idea, and one that’s unbelievably refreshing after plugging away at Tap Tap Revenge for all these years.
The controls themselves are even innovative: Rather than presenting the user with a few pads to slap, Skillz for iPad instead asks the player to scratch, slide, twist, tap, and flick each note as indicated. It’s maddeningly complex, and unceasingly fun. The app is the perfect remedy for boring rhythm titles for the iPhone, offering enough fresh innovation to power a small village.
Skillz for iPad even comes with a couple of game modes, including a career mode that behaves exactly as you’d hope it would, and a free play setting that’s equally as self-explanatory. Both offer the same stellar concept, only repackaged with different rules. In our book, you can’t go wrong with either.
Design, Graphics, and Sound
As much as we loved Skillz for iPad’s gameplay, we did manage to come up with a few complaints—Trust us, it was a bear of a time. All in all, we found the graphics absolutely superb, and easily on par with a console title in the same genre. However, there’s not nearly as much content as we would have liked: The 25 included tracks are excellent, but even more would be appreciated. Likewise, some of the controls (especially the crossfader) performed a bit haphazardly, occasionally stopping our groove mid swing.
At the end of the day, Skillz for iPad is every bit worth its $5.99 price of entry. It’s a killer app designed exclusively for the iPad, bringing console-quality gameplay to the platform: In our eyes, that alone is worth supporting, even without the mountain of pleasing tapping, twisting, and scratching.
Skillz for iPad requires iOS 4.3 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.
The iPhone app reviews rating: