NailDodger Review

Dewan Payroda, better known to the internet world as AppStoreMod, describes himself as “EPIC!” and a provider of “professional tutorials.” While this may or may not be the case, Payroda has managed 9,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel where he does application reviews. AppStoreMod pioneered the somewhat tiresome UITabBarController applications taking over Cydia. However, both are fairly great accomplishments and the AppStoreMod application is available in the App Store for Free.

Payroda recently released a brand new game onto the savage world of the App Store: NailDodger, available in the App Store for a mere 99 cents. NailDodger reportedly took a whopping 4 months to develop despite the fact that it does not use any game engine. The credits of the application also note ASROnline (Ammaar Reshi) for Graphic Design and fellow 14-year old developer NWorksDev for ‘some parts of the game engine.’ NWorksDev claims to have “developed the game engine,” in a tweet, but perhaps he did the entire thing.

Despite these background issues, the premise of NailDodger is quite simple. You are a magical balloon that dodges nails. However, said balloon has 3 lives, so if the nail ‘pops’ the balloon twice… it doesn’t. Doesn’t make too much sense, but I suppose it works for the sake of gameplay.

Upon opening the application, you are met with a shoddily designed image of a balloon floating up amongst the clouds. I assume it is supposed to be scenic. It is not. Once past that, you are met with a menu screen.

The menu screen features three buttons: Play, About, and Settings along with a friendly Navigation Bar message that welcomes you to NailDodger. There is also a toolbar at the bottom for no discernible reason. In addition, the pseudo-tasteful white border on the buttons is not part of the image. The images were merely laid on top of the existing default white buttons. This causes the button to turn blue when pushed. This is one of many aesthetic issues in NailDodger.

Let’s start with Settings. Upon pushing settings, a small display pops up that asks you to pick music from your library. However, this display does not disable any of the elements behind it. It is also very difficult to close due to the small closebox on the top right corner. In any case, tapping on the button opens up a directory of all your songs. This has also been seen in PocketTouch. However, PocketTouch’s implementation is much more elegant than the implementation in NailDodger. PocketTouch allows you to sort by Artist, Album, etc. NailDodger features a long list of your songs. I have 5.72 GB of music. I wanted to play 156 by Mew. There is also no way to quickly scroll to the bottom. On top of that, if you have multiple versions of one song, NailDodger does not tell you which album it is from. You can also oddly pause the song from this view. The pause button is always there though. So if a song is not playing, you can hit the pause button all you want. Nothing will happen. In any case, I selected 156 and went on my way.

Back to the main menu, the popup was still there. Closing it with the small X, I opened up the About screen. It featured small blurbs with remarkably bad grammar about NailDodger, AppStoreMod, NWorksDev, and ASROnline, along with links to their respective websites. There are a few misspelled words in this view and some mild grammar issues such as, “He is also and individual,” and “reccomend.”

You can also tap on Play. This opens up a menu where you can “Start !” or “Read Instructions”. Upon tapping on “Read Instructions,” the same ugly popup appeared with more misspellings and grammar errors. On top of that, this appears every time. There is no option to skip this tedious popup, or make it show only the first time. What should be a mere single tap turns into a multi-tap nightmare of opening popups, hunting for the close button, and discovering that the instructions don’t just cut off mid-sentence, but that the whole thing scrolls down. You’d think that this information would be in the moderately useless about screen and not cluttering up the already cluttered main menu.

On tapping start, the actual game begins. Using the accelerometer to steer my precious balloon away from the 3 falling nails. Every 5 seconds, the nails get faster and build to an impressive speed as your balloon deftly dodges them until it is hit thrice where you die. A new menu then appears asking you if you’d like to post your score to twitter, restart, or return to the main menu.

NailDodger gives you three lives, which you’ll go through fairly quickly. However, there is a bit of a way to bypass this. Tapping on the pause button stealthily hiding in the bottom left corner of the screen pauses the location of the nails. Nevertheless, you, the balloon are still able to move. About to get hit by a nail? Not a problem. Just pause and move your balloon away from the impending doom and continue playing. The accelerometer logic is also not done very well. As I set my iPod down on a perfectly flat surface (yes, I measured), the balloon slowly traveled left.

As I posted my score to Twitter, I only managed an embarrassing 19 seconds. However, I also noticed that every single tweet from NailDodger mentions @AppStoreMod. I would imagine that’d be rather annoying if NailDodger begins to acquire a large user base. However, NailDodger does not remember your twitter credentials. There is not even an option to remember them, so users must enter their credentials every time. On top of that, NailDodger clearly uses Brandon Treb’s TwitUpdate twitter code sample. No credit is given for the use of this code sample.

NailDodger’s graphics are disgusting. They are quite possibly the ugliest pieces of graphic design I have seen in a game, save for the original graphics in the edition of NailDodger that leaked to the internet several weeks ago. There is no sense as to why the icon and the splash screen have an entirely different design language from the rest of the application. They are light, airy, cloudy, and full of floating balloons. The rest of the application is dark, purple, and full of gradients. The edges on almost every single image are pixelated and grainy, and the nails were ripped from Google Images and thus do not fit the cartoony style of the rest of the application. These design elements have one thing in common: extreme unattractiveness. Graphic designer Ammaar Reshi (ASROnline) should not quit his day job if he is old enough to have one.

NailDodger is available for 99 cents on the App Store. It is compatible with both iPhone and iPod touch on firmware version 3.1.2 and above. This was a slight inconvenience for me, as I had to upgrade, but if you’ve been keeping up with the times, you should have no problem with NailDodger and compatibility.

Presentation & Graphics: [rating:0/5] My eyes hurt.
Audio: [rating:2.75/5]. No game audio, but iPod audio is managed poorly.
Gameplay & Controls: [rating:1/5]. Poor accelerometer logic, nonsensical lives system, and buggy pause system.
Replay Value: [rating:0.5/5]. There are no high scores and the only way to compare yourself to others is an unorganized Twitter trend list. I have no desire to replay this game at all. Twitter saves this very, very slightly. No credential recalling does not help though.
Value for Money: [rating:0.5/5]. It is a 99 cent game. That’s not too bad. Yet this game manages to mess up everything. It is scarily ugly, buggy, poorly done, and completely unpolished.

Final Score: [rating:overall/5]

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