Monkeys and pinball -- two great tastes that taste great together! Kritter Ball combines these two naturally coalescing elements to create a light-hearted, cartoony pinball game that'll cost you exactly zero dollars up front. But is this free-to-play game worth the one thing it does cost you — your time?

Kritter Ball opens with an amusingly animated short about a monkey and a bear, and how their eternal rivalry came to be. Predictably, to defeat the bear, the monkey turns to pinball as the answer, as all monkeys do. If you've ever played a pinball game you'll know what to expect here. You have 90 seconds to bat a ball-shaped monkey around the playing field using the left and right bumpers. Should you let the monkey ball fall between the bumpers, you're penalized. You'll smack the monkey towards gold coins, try to take out aggressive woodland critters, and snag the occasional power-up to enhance your pinball experience. It's all very simple, and would probably be great fun for anyone young enough to not have experienced many pinball games before.

The lack of variety to the level designs, however, will likely be a turn-off to more experienced pinballers, as will the lack of sensitivity to the bumpers. You don't have many tactical options in pinball, but the timing and forcefulness with which you hit the bumpers is the main way the player interacts with the game; the bumpers in Kritter Ball hit the monkey ball with the same amount of force every time, making it much more difficult to direct the ball where you want it to go.

The graphical presentation leans towards kitschy at times, but the bluegrass tunes and cartoony graphics make for a nice enough experience. What isn't nice, however, is the aggressiveness with which the game pushes you towards in-app purchases. There are ads everywhere. The first time you turn on the game an ad takes up the entire menu before you've even had a chance to do anything! Kritter Ball also utilizes the Facebook-social-game method of limiting the number of times you can play to push you towards purchasing the expensive in-game crystals to skip this waiting period. The prices range from relatively reasonable all the way to the outrageous $100 pack — an unthinkable amount of money to sink into such a simplistic game.

If Kritter Ball were a three dollar game, it'd be easy to recommend for young players. The pinball action is quick and arcade-style, with plenty of power-ups and random variance to keep things interesting, and the game's aesthetics are clean and appealing. However, the makers of Kritter Ball decided to forego upfront pricing and instead filled their game with aggressive amounts of advertising and exorbitantly expensive in-game purchases. And when a game like this has the option to accidentally waste $100 dollars on it, it's hard to want to let a child play it, and it's so simple it's unlikely that many older players will spend more than a few minutes with it.


App Store Link: Kritter Ball for iPhone & iPad | By Triniti Interactive Limited | Price: Free | Version: 1.0.1 | 45 MB | Rating 12+

5.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating