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App of the Week: Bench Off

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Developer: James Irlam

For: iOS 4.1+ on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

Price: £0.69p

With the London Olympics just around the corner we’re preparing ourselves to become the best athletes we can be – armchair athletes that is. Yes, we’ll be flexing our thumbs on a selection of the best sports games and apps we can find, and this week’s App of the Week is a prime example of that.

Bench Off is a fun game based around weighlifting, whereby you work out to work your way up the ladder in the bodybuilding stakes. It’s nothing serious of course, but it is a ton of fun.

You start off in your bedroom with nothing but a broom handle and some metal cans to make a makeshift weights bar, and work your way up to competing in tournaments. Each level features a new setting, with options cleverly implemented as various parts of the scene – for instance the telephone allows you to call up a rival and make a challenge.

You’ll get a chance to flex your muscles and build up your strength on each level before challenging a rival, which if you win you’ll earn money to spend in the shop – but more on that in a bit. Every level offers a different challenge to complete, varying from getting your screen taps timed perfectly, to building up a weights bar in the correct order while avoiding the wrong items, which makes the game nice and varied.

If you manage to win a challenge you can head into the shop – which is amusingly called ‘Skwät, Kurl and Bhurns – to spend your hard-won moolah on performance enhancing items, ranging from the humble banana to super steroids. Each will offer you a strength boost of some sort, which can be perfect for defeating a rival during a challenge.

The killer feature for us – and one that we couldn’t go without in the real gym – is the ability to play your own tunes while you work out. A tap on the radio in any level will allow you to browse through the iPod app on your iOS device and add songs to the app, create a playlist, and then listen to them as you make your way through each level. We reckon this is miles better than listening to any cheesy background music and is something that more apps should do.

Bench Off is a great looking app with some really neat 2D cartoon-style graphics coupled with addictive and fun gameplay. You can find it on the App Store now for 69p, available on any iPhone, iPod, or iPod Touch running iOS 4.1 and up.

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