If you’ve read anything about hustlers and con-artists, there’s no doubt at some point you’ve heard of a “shell game.” The popular con involves three cups or shells, one small round ball, and a very gullible person. In the sidewalk version of the shell game, the dealer utilizes sleight of hand to palm the ball undetected, thus making the game unwinnable. 2Balls1Cup bring the swindle to the iPhone, but fortunately without the cheating and loss of money.
The title of 2Balls1Cup is an obvious wink towards the revolting internet phenomenon of the “2 Girls 1 Cup” video. If you don’t know what that is, then trust me – you don’t want to go looking it up.
This juvenile sense of humor extends through the presentation, with instructions such as “Figure it out for yourself. If it’s too difficult and you can’t find your balls, it’s not for you.”
However, there’s no real need for instructions, snarky or otherwise. Each round you are presented with three cups. One cup is lifted to reveal your two balls. The cups are then shuffled before your eyes in as confusing a manner as possible. Your goal is to keep a close eye on the cup containing your balls so that when the cups come to rest you can choose it in the lineup. Guess incorrectly, and you’ll lose a ball. Guess right, and you move on to a new round where the cups will get faster and more confusing. In general the game is pretty easy, particularly if you have good focus and concentration. Because the AI doesn’t cheat, all you have to do is keep your eye on the cup and you can win every time. Obviously later levels are much more difficult than the starter levels in terms of cup speed and randomness of movement, but by the time the game becomes a challenge you’ll likely have grown tired of it.
This is the entire premise of the game in a nutshell, pardon the expression. There are a couple of features that add to the title. As you guess correctly, you’ll fill up an X-Ray Vision bar on your screen. Once this bar is full, you can use X-Ray Vision to see through the cups for a brief second until the bar runs out. The game also supports Facebook Connect, which will allow you to associate the game with your Facebook account to send automatic status updates.
Graphically the game utilizes some quirky cartoon characters that do a nice job of conveying the game’s mischievous tone. Each snaggle-toothed cup will wink, point at his brothers, and generally tease you while you ponder your guess. A Vegas-style table and background do a nice job of setting the locale.
Music is a bouncy but generic melody that does little to get your toes tapping but is generally unoffensive. You can always turn sounds and/or music off if it gets too repetitive. Control-wise the game is responsive and since you’ll simply be tapping a cup every round, there’s not a whole lot else you can say.
I always find games like this tough to review because there’s really not a lot of meat on these bones. On the other hand, it’s hard to really come down too hard on a game that only costs a buck and makes no claims to be anything other than a simple little budget title. Ultimately I decided that I had to judge the game on one simple criteria: is it fun? The answer is, no, not really. This is basically a mini-game that might be an interesting diversion in a bigger package, but lacks the substance to succeed on its own. There are some really enjoyable and addictive 99 cent games out there. While 2Balls1Cup certainly doesn’t do anything terribly wrong, it does very little to make it more worthy of a purchase than some of those other titles.