Penny Parlor [$1.99] wraps four antique coin-operated sports games into one release. But we’re not talking about classic arcade games …no, Australian-based GamesLab Apps are taking us further back in time, like pre-1950’s, to the era of mechanical arcade machines which used to cost one penny to play.
The game displays a room (parlor) with four antique amusement machines shown in 3D, including: American Pro Football, Super Swing Baseball, The Amazing Golf Game and Smack’n’Whack Cricket. The old-fashioned color schemes, carnival music, and mechanical style movements and controls are all designed to convey the original feeling of playing these games at the fairground.
My favorite mini-game is ‘American Pro Football‘, which challenges you to flick a football with your finger to avoid three defenders (who move on tracks) and score touchdowns. The end-zone is divided into different gates, which represent either a touchdown or the amount of yards gained. If you accrue 100 yards you score a touchdown. You can bounce the football off the sides to sneak around the defenders or double-tap to quickly reset the football, ready for another attempt. Each time you score a touchdown, extra time is added to your play clock.
In ‘Super Swing Baseball‘, a ball rolls down a track towards home plate and you have to tap at the right time to swing the bat. You can either score a home run or help your team progress around the bases by hitting the ball into targets. As always, three strikes and: “you’re out!", and three outs means game over, unless you hit the “extra innings" target. As you move up the levels, the balls are bowled more frequently, testing your hand eye coordination.
The ‘Amazing Golf Game‘ involves sinking 9 holes of golf, although you have to sink the ball in one shot from the tee. You rotate a little man to aim, then hold down the red button to determine the power of your swing. Initially you have 10 credits, but each time you go over par you lose a credit. Sinking the ball earns a point, while a hole-in-one scores 2 points. The par for each hole starts at four attempts, but this decreases each round, making it progressively harder. For me, this mini-game doesn’t live up to it’s name, unless you’re interested in memorizing the correct angle and power for each hole.
Finally, in ‘Smack’n’Whack Cricket‘ you’re the batter standing at the crease, trying to score as many runs as possible. You drag your finger downwards to determine the power of your swing and slide left/right to aim, then release to swing the bat at the right time. In the field, there are targets representing 2,4 and 6 runs. If you hit a target, it’s knocked over until all targets have been hit or the batsman is given out for either missing the ball or hitting an “Out!" target.
Each game has four levels of difficulty to progress through, with nine achievements to complete. Game Center wasn’t included initially, but online leaderboards and achievements were released as an update, along with iPad support (Universal).
It’s impossible to review this game without using the word “nostalgic", even if you weren’t alive when these vintage mechanical games were originally available. In that regard, it’s a charming “feel-good" game and an interesting experience, almost like visiting a game museum. However, it’s also extremely basic and repetitive game-play which may not hold your attention for long once the initial novelty wears off. But for a quick go-to game on your mobile when you have just a few moments to spare, Penny Parlor does the trick, and is executed with great presentation and style.