Homeplay: Pole Riders

Pole Riders is a pole-vaulting polo game for two players only. Vault up to kick the ball into the opposing player’s goal, or kick your opponent off their pole.

Pole Riders is one game in Sportsfriends on PS platform. Sportsfriends is a compendium of four highly acclaimed local multiplayer games. All of these games already exist as playable prototypes, and have been exhibited around the world at festivals and parties. The original Super Pole Rider is made by an indie-game designer, Bennett Foddy as an web Flash game.

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Original Web Version

Die_Gute_Fabrik

Die Gute Fabrik (which is German for “The Good Factory”) is a small games studio based in New York City and Copenhagen, Denmark. They take classic play forms from the past – be they physical folk games from the playground or adventure games from old consoles – and breathe new life into them with music, 21st century technology, and our own sense of style and storytelling.

Style: Hand-crafted, Synaesthetic, Offbeat, Personal

 

Reception

SportsFriends was well received, being awarded a 9/10 from Polygon, 8.7/10 from IGN, and a ⅘ from HardCore Gamer.

The game also received awards at IndieCade for Impact, Technology, and Audience choice (though this was not Super Pole Riders, it was for games sold within SportsFriends.

 

Read a review

Sportsfriends is praised by IGN for its flexibility in catering to partygoers and in-depth gamers alike. A low barrier to entry is set with simple controls and clear goals. For example, Super Pole Riders displays a glowing ball and two opposite targets. With simple, intuitive controls like jump and swing, anyone can pick up a controller and try a match or two.

Yet, as the two of us played multiple rounds, we began to discover the idiosyncrasies of gameplay. Letting go of your swing earlier gives you a higher jump. The angle of your mid-air orientation can send the ball farther. The pole can not only be used for swinging, but for blocking, too. I can’t help but agree with IGN when they note “once you master using your pole … there’s plenty of freedom to playfully troll your friends.”

 

What worked what didn’t?

What worked for us was the simplicity and hidden tricks of the game. Sure, there were no AIs or high scores or new levels or character unlocking. But, there was a learning curve to climb which intrigued us enough to bounce around between games and continue to learn new tricks along the way. Additionally, the play on sound was a positive touch to the user experience, where music would start and stop as the player went mobile or stalled. This way, your movement added to the intensity of the match.

However, what did not work for us was the lack of replayability. Though there were new skills to learn and sharpen, scoring occurred as often as it does in soccer. And with games lasting up to five minutes, of the same mechanics relentlessly repeated over and over again, the pole vaulting became tiresome.

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Jake Bittner & Giada Sun

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