Taking a swing at competitive catapult play

The slingshot/catapult-style of gameplay seen in many games, from Crush the Castle to Angry Birds and all of their derivatives, has begun to feel like it’s getting tiresome and repetitive as time goes on. Thankfully, Swing Shot manages to take the core foundation of this gameplay and breathe some new life into it with new twists and a more competitive aspect.

The setup is an interesting concept to describe: Hanging from two opposing trees is a series of ropes and beams that almost feel like a series of coat hangers strung together. Hanging from these are a variety of animals, each with their own special attacks. You’ll begin with rock-throwing monkeys, but soon be able to get beehive-chucking bears, boomerang-tossing pandas, shuriken-hurling raccoons, and sloths who throw beetles that will gradually eat through the ropes you’re hanging from.

The basic goal is to drop your opponents from their perches before they drop you, and there are a few ways to accomplish this: you can attack them head on, forcing them to lose their grip; you can snap the beams they hang from, or you can attack the ropes to see the entire structure come tumbling down. At the beginning of each round, you will have the chance to strike a power-up in the middle of the field, which can result in different effects, from scattered shots to a fiery version of your weapon.

Each turn lasts about ten seconds, which feels a little rushed but keeps things moving. Complicating matters more is that following the loss of one of your animals, your apparatus tends to swing about wildly, which makes aiming your throw much more difficult.

Swing Shot features substantial options for both single and multiplayer alike. For those going solo, there are three types of opponents you’ll encounter across 48 stages, split among the types listed above. You have the basic hanging types who return fire; a variation with only one hanging foe who is surrounded by an orbital shield of rocks to penetrate; and finally, those who hang from balloons and don’t fight back.

Swing Shot

In multiplayer, which can be played against friends on your “rivals” list or randomly in a quick vs. match, there are three modes to choose from, each based on the apparatus-hanging matches from the single-player mode. You have a basic “Sniper” version, which allows you to line up shots with an actual line showing where your projectile will soar; and a “Crazy” version, in which all shots are one-hit kills.

In either mode, you will earn coins to use in the game’s shop. There, you can purchase items such as new animals and new types of beams to customize your rig. Then, in your room, you can store up to three custom rigs, which can be used in single or multiplayer mode. And in the case of single, being able to adapt to your enemies with new animals of your own can be the key to victory.

Swing Shot is a very fun and addictive game, especially when playing with someone else, and particularly with a friend who is nearby. Unfortunately, the game can also be quite aggravating with some of its quirks, particularly its reluctance to share info with you about nearly anything, which makes much of the game feel inconsistent.

Swing Shot

One example of this inconsistency is during battles; sometimes you’ll clobber an enemy right on the head, making them fall, while other times they’ll just swing around in circles. What was the difference? How do you compensate in the future? Good luck figuring it out. In fact, it may even be open to chance.

A particularly trying instance comes in the single-player mode. One stage features a group of sloths hanging from chains, encased in ice/crystal, and begin with a power-up that reflects your shots right back at you as they throw heavy-duty beetles that soon chomp through your ropes, causing your entire apparatus to plummet. Is there something that can beat the enchantments? A weapon the chains are weak to? Who knows?

This obscuring of information extends right into the shop as well. What is the difference between an animal who wears shades and one who doesn’t, besides the price? What does that little infinity mark refer to?

Swing Shot

The worst instance came during multiplayer, however. We learned the hard way that you can only play a limited number of times, based on the number of animals you have. Once they’re gone, you have to purchase more from the shop (thankfully, this doesn’t seem to affect the single-player mode). And good luck trying to figure out how many you have left for multiplayer, or what the stats they give you mean (we had played six rounds with someone across all three multiplayer modes, but were only given a “6” on Sniper).

Fortunately, this lack of information does not ruin Swing Shot, especially if you’re cool with just random fun. The need to purchase animals to continue playing multiplayer kind of spoils that mode to a degree (especially if you’re planning to play a lot of it in a short time span). It’s actually a very fun and addictive game, so long as you don’t mind not having any idea of what’s going on and just throwing things until something works.