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Air Hockey Unlimited

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#1 chance


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Posted 27 February 2012 - 12:55 PM

Air Hockey Unlimited

Matthew Gold
vertex67 on the GMC

Additional credits
Artwork by Chaos Design
Collision physics by icuurd12b42 and Thomas Smid.

Released January 2011
Featured on YoYo Games June 2011

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Official trailer

Air Hockey Unlimited is NOT that familiar table-top game played by beer infused college boys in frat houses and cheap bars. It adds features and challenges never imagined during those Saturday night drinking binges.

In Air Hockey Unlimited you play against a built-in opponent (whose skill you can select). You can choose traditional air hockey, or you can choose one of several alternative "challenges". There are 20 challenges in all -- in 4 categories:

  • Rival
  • Target
  • Hectic
  • Pick-ups

Each challenge type offers several different challenges. And you can play the challenges in any order you want, or mix and match. I started with the pick-up challenges, and after finishing a couple of them I tried the target challenges. The variety of possible gameplay options is a joy -- and one of the game's best features.

Pickup Challenges
The first pick-up (button appears in center of table) reverses gravity toward the opponents goal -- or toward yours -- depending on who clicks it first. It feels a bit like playing table hockey with the table tilted 45-degrees toward (or away from) you. (see screenshot below)

Another pick-up challenge allows you to increase your paddle size, and decrease the size of your opponent's paddle. But if you want the "big paddle" advantage, you gotta to be quick. Because if the opponent clicks first, you may be relegated to a tiny paddle -- making puck control very difficult. In this case, size really does matter.

Screenshot of gravity pick-up
Posted Image
(Original size 1260 x 768)

Target Challenges
I especially liked these, because sheer reflexes were not so important. Rather, it's more about careful aiming. And having some pool experience pays off. The first couple of challenges involve hitting all the pucks squirreled away in tight places. This is a bit like bumper pool, but with a very odd-looking table. There are several levels you must finish within the time limit.

Posted Image
(Original size 1260 x 768)

On another challenge, you must hit all five numbered pucks in a single shot and in the correct order. This takes strategy and skill, like making a complex billiards shot. Or maybe a bit like the ultimate Snooker shot. Again, there are several different levels.

Posted Image
(Original size 1260 x 768)

Hectic Challenges
The hectic challenges were just that. The first one I played involved defending from multiple pucks. But instead of an opponent, gravity was your enemy. More pucks are added over time. At first, it was a bit like juggling. But after 3-4 pucks were added, it was more like surviving an avalanche. There are different ways to play. You can gently nudge the pucks away so they can't build up much speed on the rebound. Or you can hit them to the back wall and neutralize their speed.

Then there's the "12 pucks at once" challenge... All I can say is I managed to survive.

The "limited ammo" challenge is a clever mix of hockey and target shooting. You defend from opponent pucks... but you can also "shoot" bullet-like pucks into your opponent's goal. Very odd, but very interesting. And definitely lots of fun.

I haven't played any of the "Rival" challenges yet. I'll let you discover those yourself.

As you complete the various challenges you increase your score -- essentially earning "cash" you can spend in the Store. For different prices, you can unlock lots of cool things, like interesting pick-up items, new music, new tables and mallets, and more. You can customize your experience in the settings menu, but the Store lets you experience new types of gameplay.

Here's a few screenshots of the store options, just to show a small sample of what's available:

Posted Image
(Original size 1260 x 768)

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(Original size 1260 x 768)

Score and Play Records
This is a great feature. The auto-save keeps track of your progress, cash, levels played, time played, etc. And as you complete the levels, your earn different "medals", such as hockey zombie (5 hrs. of play time), challenge champ, millionaire, and finally... mallet master.

Graphics and Sounds
Superb on all counts. The graphics are professional quality. The mallet and pucks have dynamic shadows. The special effects when things collide were balanced -- but never overdone. Likewise, the sound and music were excellent. The sound of pucks colliding or falling into a goal is perfect. And the audience giggle at your poor defense adds a nice touch.

Overall Impression
After all my praise so far it's a bit of an anti-climax, isn't it? I enjoyed Air Hockey Unlimited immensely, and found it very well-designed and constructed. It's difficult to find anything to complain about. The gameplay was original, with unique features that set it apart from other hockey arcade games. The collision physics seemed flawless, and made me feel I was at a real table... but without the smell of stale beer.

Most notable is the sense of completeness and attention to the smallest detail. The authors overlooked nothing. And with 20 challenges, 20 unlockables, and 10 achievements there's plenty of gameplay variety, and lots of replay value. Commercial quality.

I highly recommend this game. Even if you're not an arcade game fan or an air-hockey fan, it's worth trying just to experience the quality firsthand. A lesson for all aspiring gamemakers.

Other games by Matthew Gold (vertex67):
Tekno Tank
Zero Vector


Edited by chance, 04 March 2012 - 11:37 PM.

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#2 speedchuck


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Posted 06 March 2012 - 08:46 PM

This is a very informative review! After reading the whole thing, I played the game, and it matched up to the hype the review gave it. Thanks for introducing me to a great game! Good review! :thumbsup:
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#3 Nocturne


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Posted 06 March 2012 - 09:01 PM

I forgot to comment on this... Sorry chance! Anyway, the review is well written and entertaining and itīs good to see such an excellent game getting some new exposure as it is certainly one of the most original, entertaining and best mede GM titles around. Great review for a great game!

PS: I think you missed out a game mode between "Target Challenges" and "Hectic Challenges"...
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#4 vertex67


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Posted 09 March 2012 - 03:07 AM

Thanks for the review! You really hit on all the aspects of the game, for which I am very appreciative!
I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it. I wanted to take the Air Hockey formula and expand it as much as possible without abandoning the core mechanics.

Here are some interesting facts about the game for those who care to learn more:
  • The "Limited Ammo" challenge you refer to was inspired by the popular 90's board game called 'Crossfire'
  • The game was originally called 'Air Hockey Online', and had a functional online lobby with chat where players could control avatars in a virtual 'arcade' and walk up to virtual tables to initiate a match. Unfortunately, I had too much trouble syncing the puck in matches and was forced to scrap the mode altogether.
  • You can type 'muchmoney' when in the store menu for instant cash.
  • AHU was totally stagnant on YYG for 6 months where it garnered a mere 40 plays, most of which were probably me. NAL came to the rescue and featured the game. After about a month, someone must have disagreed because AHU was stripped of its featured tag :D
  • There is a mac version sitting on my hard drive that I am too lazy to post on the forums... I might get around to it some day.

Anywho, great review, and thanks. :thumbsup:
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#5 orange08


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Posted 11 March 2012 - 01:51 PM

  • AHU was totally stagnant on YYG for 6 months where it garnered a mere 40 plays, most of which were probably me. NAL came to the rescue and featured the game. After about a month, someone must have disagreed because AHU was stripped of its featured tag :D

It lost it's "featured" tag because it was put into the spotlight. That's how YYG's featuring system works.
Someone features your game, then after a month or something, all the recently featured games are put into the spotlight. About a month later they are given back their "featured" tag and this time they keep it for good.

Your game is still in the spotlight ;)
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#6 Joe H

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 02:38 PM

What really impresses me isn't only the review, but the amount of information chance took the time to include. Links to the profiles, topic and other games. That isn't to mention the amount of pictures and screenshots included. Plus, what a neat game! +1'd, I'm glad to see reviews with this much effort.
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#7 Fihrilkamal


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Posted 22 April 2012 - 05:23 PM

This is really a good review very descriptive and clearly informative, and.. your Overall Impression made me wanted to play this game so badly.
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#8 Jobo



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Posted 13 May 2012 - 10:13 PM

Likewise, the sound and music were excellent.

it´s good to see such an excellent game

Posted Image

Okay admittedly I only looked at the snapshots, but hey, it's one more air hockey game, what can I possibly have missed that wasn't in the snaphots :whistle:
Knowing chance (which I don't) I'm positive it was a good review though!

Good review!

Phew :sweat:

Edited by Jobo, 13 May 2012 - 10:14 PM.

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