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Review: Holedown — a ball-bouncing, block-breaking blast

This well-designed app is casual gaming at its best

Price: $4/£4
Version: 1.0
Size: 115 MB
Developer: webbfarbror AB
Platform: iPhone/iPad


Update! There was a lot to like about Holedown, the ball-bouncing arcade game, when we reviewed it a couple of years ago. But how has the app changed over time – are customers still getting their block-breakin’ money’s worth?

So what’s new? Holedown is still a great game – it’s one folks are going to enjoy continuing to play on their iPhones and iPads, even though additional content (in the form of new challenges or game modes) haven’t arrived. Because of this lack of new content, our original criticisms of the game, including the lack of variation between boss characters, still stand. However, there’s also good news: Holedown has received optimization for Apple’s newer devices, like the X-series iPhones and the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pro, meaning it’s going to look much better on your big-screen phones and tablets. This is something we’re really pleased to see.

Revised rating: Holedown remains a really fun game, make no mistake. While it’s a shame we haven’t received new content, this doesn’t take away from the fact that what you have here is a great iOS and iPadOS game which users are still going to enjoy. ★★★★½


Our original review, written in September 2018, is presented in its entirety below.

The only thing better than a casual game is a well-designed casual game. Holedown, a fairly recent release on the App Store, is just that: the game is a fun, ball-bouncing, block-breaking blast which iPhone and iPad gamers will find hard to put down.

In Holedown, gamers are tasked with mining through on-screen blocks by launching projectiles from the top of the screen. These projectiles, which take the shape of small, white moles, can break down blocks by deflecting off them (and off the side and bottom of the screen) before reaching the top again. When your projectile reaches the top, you’ll need to fire off a new one.

You’ll need to think ahead and aim carefully in order to maximize the number of strikes your projectile makes!

Here’s the catch: each block has a number written on it, and this number tells you how many “hits” the block will need to take before it’ll break down. As you fire your moles, the array of blocks will also move closer to the top of the screen, and — you guessed it — if a block reaches the top, you lose. Kinda like inverse Tetris.

You also have a limited number of shots, so play carefully.

All of this makes for a fun gaming experience: it’s satisfying watching those mini-moles bounce from wall to wall, and seeing blocks break down after taking a good slamming. The levels are designed in a fiendishly smart way and you’ll need to think carefully about where to fire your projectiles in order to progress through the game. But Holedown also adds to this dynamic in a number of ways.

In a Tetris-style move, Holedown’s bricks gradually edge towards the top of the screen.

First, you’ll notice that certain blocks have a miniature “x” on them: these will be difficult to clear, but provide you with a diamond once they’ve been blasted away. Diamonds serve as in-game currency and can be used to upgrade your gear in Holedown. There are six planets to mine through and boss fights, too, although bosses are fairly similar and a little variation would be a nice addition to the game.

Game Center support and iCloud Saves sweeten the experience.

On top of all that, Holedown offers a catchy original soundtrack, an endless play mode, Split View support, and iCloud saves across devices. It’s the kind of app you can dive into for a few minutes and return to later.

For the perfect addition to your summer gaming playlist, consider taking Holedown for a spin and get mining!