Air hockey is not the rec room staple it was three decades ago. But still the game retains its appeal. Who can deny the satisfying ricochet of the puck around the table, or the click of a puck dropping in the goal? It’s not surprising that game developers have tried to replicate this game for the phone and iPad. The iPad is particularly well-suited to air hockey, with some games allowing four players on the board. Unlike regular air hockey, virtual air hockey is not just about physics and skill. The puck has a mind of its own, bringing added fun (or frustration, as the case may be). Here are a few of the interesting air hockey apps out there.
Air Hockey Gold (for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, free). This is one of several air hockey games made by Acceleroto, several of them free. This is a classic no-frills air hockey game, with levels ranging from kiddie to INSANE. There are one-payer, two-player, and wireless two-player options. For a game with a little more style and speed, try Accelerato’s Doodle Hockey (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, $0.99), which has several hand-drawn (doodled) looks to choose from.
Glow Hockey 2 (for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android, free). This game, with its black background and glowing trim, pucks, and mallets, pays a nod to 70s arcade games like Pac-Man. Of all the air hockey games we tried, this was the favorite of the 7-year-old in our house.
SteamPunk Air Hockey (for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, $1.99). This stylish take on air hockey describes itself as the “Victorian answer to modern plasticky air hockey.” SteamPunk Hockey offers a variety of sumptuously decorated tables and gold, riveted mallets. To increase the difficulty, you can choose a smaller or faster game platter (puck), add obstacles, or play with up to four game platters skittering about the board. This game will keep you busy, with more than 40 levels to unlock. Besides the music, one of the best things about the game is the explosion of steam that comes with a goal.
Sketch Hockey (for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. $0.99). This game is set in outer space, with planets serving as pucks. This game takes advantage of the touch screen. Instead of a mallet, you sketch a line in front of an incoming planet to deflect it. The planet makes a dense popping sound when deflected, so if you choose to have two planets flying around, it feels like a real celestial storm. This game has multiple levels (kiddie to insane seems to be a standard scheme) and multiple stages as well.
Air Hockey Classic (Windows Phone, $3.99) is pricey as far as games go. But the responsiveness of the puck, and the oohs and aahs of the crowd, make you feel like you are playing a real game. And with air hockey, this can never be bad.