Archery Master 3D – Review
by Mark R
There are certain game types which are perfectly suited to smaller mobile devices, such as smartphones rather than tablets – match puzzles, brain teasers, and fishing games being good examples. The smaller screen rarely serves as a negative, and they’re easy to drop in and out of without fear of losing momentum, making them ideal for those who like to game ‘on the go’. Archery games, on the other hand, could prove to be a little difficult when it comes to the sort of pixel precision you’d expect from a genre based on a sport whose very foundation involves finding the exact trajectory and repeating the same angles, pull, and set-up for each subsequent shot.
Having played a number of these, most of which fall into what we’d likely describe as ‘arcade-style’ gaming, Archery Master 3D has come along and somewhat subverted the trend. It’s certainly not hyper-realistic where it could be considered the archery genre’s Forza while all the others remain firmly in Mario Kart territory, but it’s certainly on par with the likes of Burnout Paradise where you do still have to take the environment into consideration and learn how your chosen vehicle performs if you want to avoid spinning out of control during high-speed cornering. It’s for this reason that Archery Master 3D deserves some attention.
From the outset, it’s very apparent that the developers – TerranDroid – are hoping that you’ll want to spend as much money as possible through their in-app purchases. There are frequent reminders of how you can skip ahead and enhance your abilities by parting with your hard-earned real-world cash and it’s one of the first things they bring to your attention upon starting the game but, unlike Dungeon Keeper and Theme Park, it turns out that there is absolutely no reason why you can’t continue playing using skill and perseverance alone.
Archery is, as is well-coined, the art of repetition, and Archery Master 3D clearly knows that those who have any interest in archery probably wouldn’t mind going over the same old ground time and again. To capitalise on this, the game centres around four separate scenarios – Pine Forest, Archery Field, Deadly Desert, and Rain Forest – and each of those contain twenty-five individual levels, giving you one hundred challenges to play through. As you’d undoubtedly expect, each individual level requires a certain score to be achieved before unlocking the next, and the separate scenarios remain locked until the player has acquired a predetermined number of stars. So while it’s entirely possible to play through each level once and continue to progress, there may be times where a few may need replayed – especially when a new feature is introduced that requires a degree of re-learning, such as wind speed/direction, and moving targets.
In a bid to up the ante, however, TerranDroid have also introduced four personal challenges for each of the individual levels. The first is the aforementioned score requirement, where falling short will mean that the next level remains unlocked until such times as you hit the target, so to speak. In a level with six arrows at your disposal and a prerequisite score of 52 for a pass level, this means that at least four of your shots must fall within the 9 zone (the first of two gold circles heading towards the central green bullseye), allowing for two to fall short into the 8 zone or you’ll be forced to repeat. Achieving the goal awards you with one star and unlocks the next level, and if you’re keen enough to pull six clear bullseyes at 10 points each, then you’ll pick up more cash along the way.
The second challenge could be “More Than 9 Rings: 4” which, although it may not be immediately apparent, means that you’ll get a bonus star if you manage to get at least five arrows within the 9-point scoring zone. Falling short won’t fail you and, assuming you’ve still hit the score requirement, you’ll still continue to the next level. The third is usually considerably more challenging, such as “More Than 10 Rings: 1” or “Hit The Bullseye“, especially in later levels where the target boss is much further away than in earlier stages. Picking up all three stars gives a greater cash reward. Finally, there’s the medal challenge where you’re given a score value which, if reached, will adorn your level icon with a shiny rosette to show that you’ve maxed it out. It’s fair to say that I got pretty damned good at hitting the 10-point zone, and the occasional bullseye, yet only managed a total of three medals without going back to replay any levels, so this alone makes for great replay value.
While the handling of the bow is by no means accurate to real-life archery, it’s far from being your run-of-the-mill mundane point-and-shoot affair. The reticule is controlled by slowly dragging your finger across the screen to line it up with where you hope your arrow will land, but holding on to said reticule is certainly no easy task. As with a real-world bow, there is a constant degree of movement and so timing the release of the arrow is key. When the first arrow lands, you will take stock of where you’d aimed, what the wind speed and direction were like, and your next shot will be based on that. If you have a steady hand – a very steady hand – and are used to playing games requiring pixel-precise judgement, then it’s entirely possible to land within the 9 or 10 zones with most shots. Hitting the bullseye – especially in later levels with higher winds and moving targets – is no mean feat.
To throw a little variation into the mix, every now and again the standard target-boss affair will switch to being a series of balloons – blue, purple, and gold – but you only have a small number of arrows with which to burst them. As the gold balloons pay higher, and there’s no increased difficulty in targeting these (they’re not any further away and are the same size as the others, so there’s no real reason why they should offer more reward), it’s best to go for these first and ignore the other colours. You can also enter Challenge Mode where you’re pitted against Olympic archers such as Galiazzo, Tomi, and Justin (probably not Marco Galiazzo, Tomi Poikolainen, or Justin Huish) and have to beat their score in order to unlock the next Olympian.
Along the way, your cash will start to mount up, and you’ll be encouraged to visit the store to see what’s on offer. Arrows are all single-use (where you’ll buy one to add to your quiver but can only use it once in any given round) and vary from 200-1000 gold, which is still quite a lot considering how many levels you’d have to play through in order to pick up enough to justify buying more than one. Quivers can be levelled up, with each one having the ability to carry one more arrow than the last, and add-on parts such as a sight, stabilisers will serve you well in certain scenarios but they are also single-use so you have to be selective over when you use them. Bows start at 2000 gold, and peak at a brain-bursting 80,000 gold for the Niello Composite which, based on it having 100% stability and more than three times the power and range of your starting bow, is undoubtedly worth every penny.
And it’s those pennies which will determine whether you embrace the art of repetition, or give in to temptation and splash out on in-game currency. Each day brings you a daily cash bonus, up to 700 coins for your seventh day, but when you consider that I’d only earned around 4000 coins in total by the time I was half way through all four areas (before spending 2000 on the Golden Recurve bow, which was necessary to proceed at one point as my existing bow lacked the required range), it’s unlikely that you’ll ever pull in those 80,000 coins without replaying each level an incredible number of times. It’s also highly likely that a large number of players will have to pay real-world cash in order to proceed to the third area if they’ve spent their money on other items and upgrades along the way.
That said, with several hours of gameplay behind me already and having barely scratched the surface in terms of medals and triple-gold-stars for each of the 100 levels, playing Archery Master 3D for free is more than achievable. While other mobile games can quickly lose their appeal from either a ridiculously steep difficulty curve, no difficulty curve whatsoever, or EA-style money-grabbing in-app purchases, TerranDroid appear to have struck a stable balance where the choice of spending money is entirely yours, and whether or not you continue to progress comes down to your own desire to excel using their solid game mechanics.Pros
- Decent graphics
- Not too arcadey, so there's a degree of skill involved
- Varied choice of upgrades available
- Mixes things up with moving targets, longer ranges
- In-game challenges offer great replay value
- Costs you 20,000 coins if you want to play as a female (definitely not Lara Croft)
- The higher-end bows are probably not possible to buy without spending real-world cash
For those who want to step away from the usual mobile games and try out something a little different, Archery Master 3D is certainly worthwhile. It's free, with optional in-app purchases, and offers a great many hours of enjoyable gameplay with practically no frustration. It's colourful, with decent mechanics, varied enough to keep your interest while not bombarding you with ridiculous crazy-golf-style scenarios, and the replay value is excellent when you factor in the three-star options and the gold medals for each of the 100 levels. Add to that the Olympic Challenges and the kick that comes from beating an actual opponent, and you're looking at even more replayability.
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