One of the best additions to gaming since touch screens came about is the slingshot mechanic. If you're unfamiliar, that's dragging back on the screen to catapult an object through the air. The idea rose to prominence in Rovio's Angry Birds, where you'd fling the titular at questionably constructed towers to eliminate pigs.
New Star Games' Retro Bowl takes this mechanic and applies it to American football to great effect. The matches focus purely on the sport's attacking side, which means choosing where your quarterback will throw the ball. When you drag your finger away from your player, the rest of your team will start to run. It's then up to you to find a target with your throw.
And when you do, it never stops feeling good. Whenever your teammate catches the ball after a pinpoint throw, it's almost as good as getting a touchdown. There's tension thrown into the mix too. Your opponents will try and break through your defence to try and tackle your quarterback to the ground, so you can't afford to spend too long picking a pass. The added pressure makes every successful pass feel like a victory by itself.
It's simple but endlessly satisfying, a sentiment that extends beyond throwing the ball. Once caught, you take control of the receiver and must swipe up or down to avoid incoming tackles from the opposition. Whenever you time a dodge correctly and see the other's team players dive head first into the ground, it's exhilarating, especially if you manage to sidestep several people in quick succession.
And that's only when you first start the game and your team has a low rating. As you progress, you can acquire new players or increase the stats of your existing roster. With an upgraded team, you can pull off more audacious passes and charge your way through more opposing players easier. Throwing a 40-plus yard pass or running 75 yards while weaving past incoming tackles makes you feel like a true athlete, something not every sports game achieves.
You don't have to worry too much about the defensive side of the game, which is a smart decision from the developers. Swiping up and down in a desperate attempt to block opposing runners would be far too frantic on a touch screen and ultimately frustrating. Instead, you can only increase your team's defensive stats, which increases the chance of your team preventing a touchdown when the opposition is attacking.
While the gameplay itself is fantastic, the game might become tiring if there wasn't anything more to it. New Star Games clearly understood this, so included some light management tasks to complete between games. You can upgrade your facilities, sign players, or hunt for new coaches to help improve the team.
There are also decisions you will need to make after or before games. These choices often boil down to increasing one stat while decreasing another. So, it's up to you to keep everything balanced. Lambast your best player if his morale is already high, or praise the fans if their support has waned in recent weeks. In truth, it's not overly in-depth, but it serves to make you feel involved in all areas of the game, on and off the pitch.
Whether you're an American football fan or not, you should definitely try Retro Ball. The game removes most of the sport's complexities and distils them into the most fun parts, making incredible passes and avoiding incoming tackles. The games are quick to complete, making Retro Bowl perfect for on-the-go play. Although it's so enjoyable you might find it tricky to stop at one match.