I aim at a target 50 meters away, pulling the bowstring close to my cheek. I carefully watch the drift of my bow across the screen, letting the string loose at the right moment and sending an arrow sailing straight into the middle of the target -- 10 points. Seconds later, my opponent, Brian from Canada, fires his shot -- four points, hitting only the outer circles and almost missing the target entirely. Thing is, this is the eighth player in a row to play laughably bad, and the eighth person in a row to only score between one and four points every shot. Those players may not be people after all.
Archery King is a nice game. It has a classic kids game atmosphere to its sport simulation, with bright colours, badly composed inspirational music, and easy-to-the-point-of-oversimplification game mechanics -- the kind of sports games that Sega and Nintendo published in years past. You hold the bottom of the screen to pull the bowstring back, and slide your finger across the screen to get the bow moving. The bow starts drifting across the screen, and you must fight the inertia and let your finger go at the right moment to let the arrow fly where you are aiming. This mechanic never gets more complicated, but the higher level matches do get harder with wind affecting your shots and targets being placed further and further away on the range. It comes to a point that your skills won’t suffice anymore, as the target becomes pretty much indistinguishable on a small smartphone screen and the wind starts to veer your arrows off course like the gods hold a grudge against you. To appease said gods, you must engage in the time honoured tradition of capitalism, and that’s where microtransactions come in -- the first tier of equipment can be bought with in-game money, but anything above that is classified as premium and requires real world cash. Said gear includes essential items such as zoom sights and faster arrows, so the progression in the game is effectively locked behind paywalls as you get to the higher tiers.
Technically, Archery King runs fine and I have not experienced difficulties, although it should be noted Play Store reviews are packed with complaints regarding the game failing to launch. The graphics are simple and bright, with basic geometry and flat textures in everything from gear to backgrounds. Antialiasing is non-existent, creating a very unsightly view on the equipment store where all the bows show up as jagged shapes until you zoom in on the models. Sound effects are functional, with uninspired sounds for arrow’s flight and landing and a narrator that sounds like an overly excited car salesman. The music is abysmal, being cheery and ordinary to the point of annoyance. Overall, the game’s production values aren’t high, something clearly demonstrated on the early 00’s Nintendo inspired UI.
Unfortunately, Archery King is ruined by a gambling system that goes against every other facet of the game. All pretence of casual lighthearted fun is thrown out the window when you realise one can only make money by playing multiplayer, and the game doubles down on that decision with the lack of a straightforward single player mode. However, the multiplayer matches require a “fee” to enter, ranging from 500 to 4,000,000 -- meaning if you lose, you can lose all your accrued money and will need to start from zero.
The fact that many multiplayer opponents are not necessarily humans makes matters even worse. In my tests, I was matched repeatedly against players from Canada, which is odd considering I’m from London, in the UK. Said canadian players all scored between one and four points per shot on lower levels, two to six points on medium tournaments, and start to one shot the bullseye on higher difficulties with nary a miss. That is tragically comical, as it straight up robs players while being so transparently an AI routine. The undue focus on funds and multiplayer ruins what would otherwise be a very promising, fun game.
Archery King is what would happen if a Wii Sports minigame added microtransactions and was released as a standalone mobile title -- an extremely basic premise coupled with simple gameplay and tied together in a bright, cheerful artstyle. Unfortunately, low production values and a very aggressive in-app purchases model dooms what would otherwise be a very enjoyable, casual game. Spend your time and money elsewhere.
Archery King (Reviewed on Android)
The game is unenjoyable, but it works.
Cookie cutter money-sink that perpetuates the cycle of bad games with lofty microtransactions.