Bowmaster Hits a Bullseye, Tops Free iPad App Charts

Though it’s been out for a little while on iPhone, Berlin-based Chrome Gekko’s title, Bowmaster, has made its way to iPad. Now Bowmaster HD, the game takes a different approach to hook its players than on the iPhone. In doing so, it has found itself in the top slot for free apps on the iPad.

Free to download, Bowmaster HD is yet another title using free-trial-then-pay approach. It incorporates a purchase to unlock the full game from within the app itself. A decent translation, control-wise, from the original iPhone rendition, Bowmaster incorporates a much more original use of touch and tilt controls than most apps. However, the controls are not super sensitive. Fluid and fun to play, the game is a bit short from a single-player perspective and leaves a bit more to be desired.

Players are a bowmaster; a veritable Robin Hood of sorts. Though it is a bit of a weak premise, players are tasked with besting a band of five archers in a contest of accuracy and speed. Players must confront moving, wooden animal targets and use the touch and tilt controls to fire off arrows and knock them down.

For each hit, points are earned with the score being augmented by things such as the type of animal hit, its speed, or distance. Moreover, each animal has different levels of health. Some require multiple shots, and the archer that knocks it down, in a “KO,” will receive the most points.

An opponent archer is firing at the same time as the player, so speed and timing is critical. The idea, is to win two rounds by scoring hire than the opponent.

When you shoot the arrow, the camera follows it. It’s more than just a stylistic choice. It’s actually to keep the user from rapidly spraying shots in all directions in hopes of a hit. This forces a delay between each shot, which in turn, forces the player to take careful aim.

In order to control the bow and arrow, players aim with one hand and draw with the second (it can be set to left or right-handed controls). From here, they are able to look around, in a first-person perspective, using the iPad’s tilt controls. For brownie points, Chrome Gekko has wisely added the option to change tilt controls to sliding fingers, but tilting is actually recommended. Moreover, tilt sensitivity, thankfully, can be adjusted.

With each successive opponent, your accuracy and speed must increase. Users are also granted three special shots (which shoots triple arrows) a match to help even the playing field if needed. Unfortunately, this is where the one control qualm comes into play. To use these special shots, players must tap and drag them to the bow. The problem is, that if one lifts their finger in even the slightest, they tend to fire early. Such an issue rarely, if ever, happened with basic shots.

The game has a light bit of social implementation too. Bowmaster HD is integrated with OpenFeint, so even if the player quickly burns through the single player content, they can still compete via the social gaming network’s leaderboards and achievements systems.

Where the real fun comes in, however, is with the synchronous multiplayer mode.

Sadly, this is only reserved for single device play, but up to four users can compete in archery completions with the “Target Range” mode. With a target placed at preselected distances (close, medium, far, or far with wind), players take turns attempting to hit a target. Each one gets three shots, before the next player goes, and the one with the highest score, obviously, wins. It’s quite fun if one has competitive friends, but even so, an option for online play would be better.

On the monetization front, this game is free to download, and its originality certainly has pushed it up the free app charts. That said, players are only granted two of the single player matches and must pay $1.99 to unlock the full version in-game. On the upside, players do have access to the multiplayer target range mode noted prior with the free version.

Overall, Bowmaster HD is an excellent game for iPad. Coupled with its free-to-download monetization method, the game should be doing financially well at the moment. The only complaint to be had is the length of the single-player mode and some overly sensitive special shots. That said, the OpenFeint integration along with the same device multiplayer, gives the game a competitive element that feels natural and fun.