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Slam Dunk King

For:   Also on: iPhoneiPad
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Product: Slam Dunk King | Publisher: PikPok Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Arcade, Sports | Players: 1 | File size: 17.1MB | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
Slam Dunk King iPhone, thumbnail 1
For basketball fans, it’s the almost hypnotic thrust and counter-thrust of the play that keeps them glued to their seat every week, watching talented (and extremely tall) athletes outdo one another on the court.

For everyone else, it’s all about the slam dunks.

PikPok’s Slam Dunk King is firmly aimed at the non-aficionados of the sport, with the emphasis placed on executing increasingly elaborate and risky moves in return for monster points and high scores.

Leaderboard junkies will no doubt find its blend of casual flick-based gameplay and hardcore combo hunting a hoot, but the poorly paced unlocks system will put off those that don’t get a hold of its tricksy ways immediately.

Da funk

In true Fruit Ninja style, all three game modes - Time Attack, Arcade, and Sudden Death - feature balls and bombs being thrown up onto the screen: the idea is to swipe the former into the net and the latter out of the court.

Should a bomb get through, you either sit tight for a few seconds, lose a life, or end the game, depending on the mode chosen. These modes are unlocked by scoring enough points on the previous game type, so it may take a while before you manage to beat Arcade’s deceptively tough criteria.

That’s because, like trying to go a whole day only eating a popular brand of American doughnut, just dunking isn’t enough (that’s terrible, Will - ed.). No, to rack up the big scores in Slam Dunk King, you’re supposed to slam the balls against the backboard, twirl them around with your finger, perform a modified alley-oop, or pull off any of the other eight or so tricks at your disposal.

Slam dunkin’

Should you link these tricks together, you cause a crack to appear on the backboard. Smash the board and your score skyrockets.

Unfortunately, just bumbling about with one ball isn’t enough to activate this, so most of the time is spent frantically juggling two or more balls while simultaneously dunking extras and chucking away bombs. It’s a headache, but one of those 'fun' ones, especially in Arcade mode where lives are at stake for every dropped ball.

Annoyingly for iPad users, the game doesn’t support multi-touch, which makes the first few goes ridiculously hard to manage. This move was likely taken by the developer to keep a level playing field between versions, but its absence is keenly felt on the bigger screen.

Good performances are rewarded with a special bonus Overtime section, where hundreds of bronze, silver, or gold balls are chucked into the sky, each of which counts towards your Crowns tally.

Costly save

These Crowns - which serve as Slam Dunk King's in-game currency - are, effectively, pointless. That’s not to say they don’t add up to unlock anything: there are different court types, players (with their own special abilities, activated with enough consecutive dunks), and coloured balls to spend them on.

It’s just that because everything is so darn expensive, it essentially forces you into paying for in-app purchases. Otherwise, you'll have to commit months of playing time just to unlock a ball that sort-of looks like the American flag.

Still, Slam Dunk King does possess that annoying ‘one more go’ gameplay mentality and the undoubted polish of earlier, very different, PikPok games.

The time you need to invest in the game to unlock an extra court or a colourful mascot will alienate a section of players, but those looking for a high-score chaser will find it hard to put it back in the basket once its out on court.

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Slam Dunk King
Reviewer photo
Will Wilson | 29 September 2011
Slam Dunk King’s clever combo-based scoring system won't be to everyone’s tastes, but once it gets hold, it’s hard to put down
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