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First Look: Ramp Champ adds carnival fun to your iPhone


If you've seen Kevin Smith's Dogma, you know that a key character ends up incapacitated for much of the film as a consequence of his/her unusual obsession with the carnival game Skee-Ball. The whole uncomfortable situation could have been avoided with an iPhone or iPod touch and the new app from the Iconfactory and DSMediaLabs, Ramp Champ. The game brings the sounds and skill of classic carnival ball-toss challenges right into your pocket with a great deal of style and fun.

The $1.99 Ramp Champ app [iTunes link] provides four separate levels of ball toss challenges, ranging from three rows of clown targets to a rather familiar garden of bitmapped icons. Each level provides scoring & prize opportunities for knocking down the clowns, fish, invaders or icons; if you match one of three bonus conditions for the level (including, on the icon garden board, tracking down the elusive dogcow), you'll get an award for your excellent performance.

After each session of tossing, you collect prize tickets that you can turn in at the app's gallery of virtual stuffed stuff -- fuzzy dice, anyone? Aside from the four levels that ship with the app, there are four more levels (featuring unicorns, ninjas, teeth and tiki!) that will be available for in-app purchase at $0.99 per 2-level pack.

Beyond the straightforward-yet-addictive game physics (you may find your thumb aching after a while as you press a little too hard to flick the ball), the biggest draw of Ramp Champ is how stunningly pretty it is. Although we are often spoiled by the visual effort and consistency of Iconfactory projects, the team has really outdone itself with Ramp Champ. Every corner of the screen is participating in the carnival look and feel of the game; even the sound and music design feels 'right.' For such a simple game, it's surprisingly immersive.

While the game is a visual delight, unfortunately it shares a characteristic with many other 1.0 iPhone apps; it's a wee bit crashy, at least in my first day of playing. The app documentation suggests a device restart to clear out memory before trying to play. As Touch Arcade points out, the flick-to-toss gameplay is similar to the ad-supported app Paper Toss; if you find it hard to control the ball rolls in that game, you'll probably be challenged/frustrated by RC as well.

Here's a screenshot gallery from Ramp Champ.

Gallery: IconFactory's Ramp Champ for iPhone | 13 Photos

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