Skill Ball Bingo
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| Skill Ball Bingo

It seems like every six months there's a story in the press about how young people are 'flocking' to bingo halls, seeing the pensioner-packed gambling as a novel alternative to binge-drinking shagathons down the local Yates' Wine Bar.

We still don't know anyone who goes to bingo and ISN'T our nan, mind, so we're starting to wonder if these stories are planted by some crafty bingo-chain's PR. Nevertheless, bingo is one of the more accessible forms of real-world gambling when compared to the average bookmaker or casino, so perhaps we're just being cynical.

Skill Ball Bingo isn't a straight bingo sim for your phone. Instead, it's based on a range of pub amusement machines called, yes, Skill Ball Bingo. It takes the core bingo mechanic of crossing numbers off a card according to a bunch of balls, but brings in a skill element to spice things up.

So, you start by choosing a difficulty level – Easy, Medium or Hard – and are then presented with a screen split in two. On the top, the balls bounce around, with a hole into which they fall one at a time to be displayed. On the bottom is your card, with three rows of numbers.

The gameplay is simple. Every time a ball pops up, you press the left soft-key to reject it if it's not on your card, or the right soft-key to accept it if it is. The quicker you decide, the faster the next ball comes up, with the aim being to fill your card as quickly as possible.

There're also bonus balls in there. Blue balls with question marks on give you extra time (the game is played against a time limit), while if you nab the five gold balls with stars on, you get a fat score bonus. However, there's also a gold skull ball that docks you time and nixes any jackpot gold balls you've already collected.

And that's basically it. The game is simple and instantly graspable. Sound effects are fairly basic, but it looks the part, with bouncing balls and neat little scribbles when you mark off a number.

The downside? It's limited. You start the game, complete a card, move onto the next one, and so on. The three difficulty levels provide a varying challenge, but there isn't that much to the game in the long-term.

However, weighed against these limitations is an all-important addiction factor. Since starting to play Skill Ball Bingo for this review, we've been a bit obsessed by it. The well-tuned scoring system helps – it even measures what percentage of balls you call correctly, and your fastest and average time to do it.

We're not sure we'll still be playing Skill Ball Bingo in a month's time, but for several days it had us hooked. And who knows, if we ever do succumb to the hype and head off for an evening of proper bingo, this mobile game may have trained our reflexes up so we can beat some poor pensioner to the jackpot.

Skill Ball Bingo

Addictive skill-game that'll keep your eyes down... in the short term at least
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