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“Dice Pile” iPhone Review

Landing this many is much harder than it looks

With a little imagination, you can make a video game out of nearly any concept. This fact is apparent in Dice Pile, a $1 Japanese app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Each of the three modes available all revolve around the same core concept – flicking dice onto a target to chain together combos and earn points.

In Score Mode, you receive 18 dice to flick, and each one you land on the target will add to your score. The number on your die is multiplied with the number assigned to the zone on the target. For example, the outside circles will multiply by 1 or 2, but the center will multiply by 5. When you land a die on top of another already placed die, the score will multiply further. By the time you’re done throwing your dice, you can have a ridiculously high score due to all the multiplying that takes place. This is, of course, only if you’re actually good at the game, which takes quite a bit of practice.

Chain Mode twists the gameplay just a little bit. Instead of having only 18 dice to throw, you have an unlimited number. However, you only have one minute before the game ends, so quick, accurate throwing is key. You can just wildly flick the dice and hope they land on the target, and if they do, you can reach a high score in no time. This isn’t always the best strategy though, because if you miss the target three times in a row, all the dice you landed disappear and you’ll have to start building your combos back from scratch.

The third and final mode is the appropriately titled Expert Mode. This works like Score Mode with a never ending supply of dice, except that you can only miss one time before it ends. To earn a respectable score in Expert Mode, you’ll have to hone your skills for quite some time.

Perhaps the biggest turn off to Dice Pile is the difficulty – even when you aren’t playing Expert Mode, you’ll find yourself struggling to get even a small score due to how precise you have to be to land the dice on the target. When you flick a die, there is hardly any room for error if you don’t want it to fly straight up or launch past the target. For a game that revolves around landing dice on specific parts of a target, it’s a shame that you feel like you have so little control over where you will place the dice. It’s difficult enough to find that perfect angle to land on the target, but it’s almost impossible to learn to aim exactly where you want to.

The dice themselves will bounce on other dice that have landed already. While this will sometimes be to your advantage, many times it causes the dice to be knocked into some far off place that you didn’t intend at all. The way the dice bounce doesn’t seem all that realistic either, since they stay at the same velocity no matter how many times they bounce this way or that, and also because of the highly unpredictable angles they will spring themselves.

Being a English language game developed by Japanese speakers, there are loads of awkward sentences and grammar mistakes, but none of them really make a difference. When I first start up the app and it asks me if I want to use “gamesounds”, I know what it means.

Dice Pile is the kind of app that might appeal to those who love racking up a high score and then working hard to beat it. There’s even a leaderboard system in place so you can see how you stand against the insanely skilled players who occupy the top spots. It’s obvious that this game is getting lots of love from some people (the info page claims that Dice Pile was once the #1 paid app in the Japanese Dice category of games, and even the #30 paid app in Japan in the much more general Game category), but I didn’t find myself getting into it all that much. I appreciate the game’s developers for sending Frayed Wire a free download code, but I can’t give an all-encompassing recommendation. Try one of the two lite versions first to see if it’s really your style. Who knows? Soon you too might be flicking dice like a champ.

Pros: Not bad for those who love earning and beating high scores, leaderboards, three different modes

Cons: Too hard to aim exactly as you’d like to, physics system is not perfect

Final Score: 6 out of 10

By Josh60502

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