Zabuza Labs' Dahihandi Knockdown is at 7th on Android Play Store. How?

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Manas Gajare’s Zabuza Labs has been in the limelight in the past few months for making addicting games, which have been regular features on the top lists on the Android Play Store. The last time we wrote about them, it was for the popular game, Balloon Bow Arrow. I thought it was a simple, stress buster type of game, which was unique in its own way. It has gone through a fair number of iterations since then, but I still play it, as at the core, the game is still the game that it was.

They’re back in the news again, this time with their latest game, Dahihandi Knockdown. It’s ranked 7th in the leisure games section, which is quite an achievement. I spoke to Manas, who credited his developers with having built a compelling game. Manas is involved in the design and gameplay aspect of the game. We played around with the app for sometime and here’s what we think.

Angry Birds Much?

If you take the Angry Birds game, and replace the birds with the rocks and the pigs with Dahihandis, you’d have the Dahihandi Knockdown game. Well, sort of.

Essentially, various arrangements of Dahihandis are placed on a stone slab and you have to catapult stones onto them. The lesser stones that you use to break the arrangement, the more points you get and higher the star rating. Every level is more difficult than the previous one and it is aimed to be an excellent time pass game.The way the app is structured is very much like Angry Birds and so is the game play. This might come off as a safe bet, as most mobile users are used to it and it is of great appeal to the Indian audience as it has bought a festive game to mobile.

But that’s where it’s similarities with Angry Birds ends.

I hate ads .. so does everyone else

We get it. Developers gotta eat. But what happens in this game is pushing it. When you open the game, you’re presented with an ad, which you can click or choose not to. And when you choose not to, it presents you with another one. And when you try to exit that, it presents you with another one. This goes on, until you finally click the ad.

This is terrible user experience. I was disappointed with the game even before playing. And, as if this wasn’t enough, ads are displayed between each level as well. Even if the gameplay was great (which we will get to in a bit), the ads really kill it for you.

An interesting case study is how Rovio has integrated ads in the game. While you can argue that it’s got a huge user base (they actually make a million dollars a month on ad impressions), the way the ads are placed are very non intrusive manner. While this might rake in initial revenue, it will deter users from coming back to the apps.

It’s like trying to break Dahihandi on the moon

And I mean that! The physics on Dahihandi Knockdown isn’t great. Launching stones with a little more force from the catapult seems to accelerate it past escape velocity. Even the low power shots feels like a pole vault launch. The physics really needs work.

This comes as a surprise as the physics on Balloon Bow Arrow was brilliant. The arrows launch felt real and the balloons went up at a speed which felt like a balloon. But Dahihandi Knockdown, the way elements are designed are not very accurate either -

For example, the last time I checked, a rock falling on a clay pot usually caused it to break, not roll over to the side and stay in tact. In fact, the pots only break when they fall off the ledge.

On the whole, the physics of Dahihandi Knockdown was quite disappointing.

But still …

There’s got to be something to the game, if it has made it to 7th in the leisure section (and over a 100,000 downloads since its recent launch) on the Android Play Store. And honestly, there is. Yes, the ads are annoying and the physics is going to take some getting used to. But the sheer arrangement on the Dahihandi and the challenging position where it is placed make for an engaging, yet relaxing game, which is what the game intends to be.

To me, the ads on Dahihandi Knockdown are the biggest barrier that need to be sorted out. The current batch of users that have taken the app to 7th place need a compelling enough reason to come back to it, and the way the ads work right now is a barrier.

Otherwise, you should give Dahihandi Knockdown a shot and tell us what you think