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Stinger Table Hockey Puts the Biscuit in the Basket

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jan 17, 2011 5:00 AM PT

Stinger Table Hockey Puts the Biscuit in the Basket

Stinger Table Hockey, an app from Stinger Games, is available for US$1.99 at the App Store.

Stinger Hockey
Stinger Hockey

If there were a hall of fame for tabletop sports games, rod hockey would be in its inaugurating class. The game, which uses metal or plastic pucksters on the end of metal rods to simulate ice hockey, is a classic and has been for decades. Now Stinger Games has brought a simulation of the game to the iPad, and it's a honey.

Called "Stinger Table Hockey," the app, which has been featured on Apple's iPad TV ads, has outstanding 3D graphics. Players move smoothly on the virtual ice and respond crisply to finger gestures on the screen. What's more, this computer incarnation of the game is just as challenging to master as the tabletop version.

Rock music can be pumped into the virtual rink, although I found that more distracting than inspiring. The game also has the realistic sound of a puck being passed and shot in a rod hockey contest, as well as some nice extras like the ping of the puck when it ricochets off the pipes framing the goal, the whistle from a referee calling for a faceoff and, of course, the siren sounding and cheers erupting from the crowd when a goal is scored.

One irritating thing about the program, though, is it won't reorient itself on the iPad. When the tablet's screen is flipped, the game appears upside down on the display.

Shifting Views

Players are controlled on the ice by touching them. When you touch and hold a player, you can move him forward and backward by sliding your finger across the display. Players, for the most part, can only move in straight lines. Just as in real rod hockey, the pucksters' movement is limited by the slots in the ice.

While playing a game, the view of the rink is continually shifting. The effect is similar to watching a hockey game on TV. There's an overhead view and several ice level views. There's even an instant replay after a goal is scored.

Players on the ice can don the uniforms of a number of nations, or you can create your own team. You're also able to define its name and the short abbreviation that appears on the scoreboard. What's more, you can pick a custom logo for your squad, as well as its colors and striping scheme.

The game can be customized in a number of ways with the options menu. For example, you can choose how players are controlled. It's recommended that beginners start with one-touch control. It allows you to control one player, the one closest to the puck, with a finger.

However, there's also a dual-touch mode. With it, you can control two players with your thumbs. That adds a passing game to your attack because you've got control over two players simultaneously.

Rink Changes

Other aspects of the game can be altered too. Contests can be set to two to five minutes in length, plus overtime, if necessary, or be pegged to goals scored -- first to three points, for instance, or first to seven points.

The rink layout can also be altered. With the standard layout, only your defensemen wrap around your goal. In forecheck mode, either a left or right winger is allowed behind the pipes to battle a defender for the puck.

Of course, the level of difficulty for games can be modified -- easy, medium and hard -- and audio features can be turned on or off.

If you sign up for the OpenFeint service, you can share your hockey exploits through Twitter and Facebook. You can also send email from directly inside the program, although I'm not quite sure about how useful that is.

For stat freaks, the game will keep track of the essentials for your team -- games played, wins, losses, OT wins and losses, goals for and against and goal differential.

While Stinger Hockey is not a substitute for its analog counterpart, it's a terrific simulation of it that's fun to play once you get the hang of it.

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