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IVG App Review Round-up (10/2/13)

In this week’s mobile games round-up, we have a surfer in space, a rabbit on a trampoline, an aeronautical musician, and one very bumpy ride.

time-surfer

Time Surfer
By Amit Goyal

Platforms: iOS; Price: Rs 55

Did you play Tiny Wings? What if it was a surfer instead of a bird, space instead of the hills, and the universe was ending?

It would be called Time Surfer. Gameplay-wise, Time Surfer offers exactly what Tiny Wings did: a series of bumps where holding down on the screen controls gravity. Hold down on a downward slope and the player will pick up momentum, and releasing at the right moment on the upward climb will send him flying upwards and forwards. Using this simple control scheme and chaining “swoops”, the objective is to maintain forward momentum by manoeuvring progressively trickier levels on an endless run and score as high as possible.

Tiny Surfer adds an additional feature of time manipulation in the game. The above controls function in Time Surfer on the right side of the screen. Holding down on the left side rewinds time, giving the player an opportunity to retry tricky segments. Beyond this, however, the time mechanics have not been expanded upon, and with a limited amount of usability and the amount of trial and error required in retrying segments, it never quite feels like a significant ability in favour of the player.

The game also trades in Tiny Wing’s minimalistic approach for a range of power-ups to collect, monsters and asteroids to stomp on, and many alternate characters and side-kick creatures (with bonus abilities) that can be purchased per game for some amount of gems.

If you liked Tiny Wings, Time Surfer is a more action-packed variant that you will definitely enjoy.

7/10

bouncy

Bouncy!
By Sameer Desai

Platforms: iOS; Price: Rs 55

Bouncy! is a rather silly game and it’s the sort of quick-fix gaming you’ll only find on mobile devices. You control a rabbit on a trampoline and have him perform tricks as he jumps higher and higher.

Controls are completely swipe driven. You swipe down to make the rabbit jump. Once in the air you can perform rotations to earn combos. The game gives you the option to achieve this either via swipe or touch controls, which is welcome.

Things get tricky thanks to variations in wind speed and direction. You can rotate your airborne rabbit in either direction, but wind speed and direction will determine how fast he rotates. This can get quite challenging, especially because you’ll have to ensure that the rabbit completes the rotation before gravity takes over and sends him back onto the trampoline. Here again, you’ll have to swipe down to add more momentum and make for a higher jump.

You earn points for performing trick combos and for securing perfect landings, and these can then be redeemed in the in-game stores to unlock different coloured rabbits with enhanced abilities, such as 50% faster rotations.

Bouncy! is great for kids and it’s the sort of game you could turn to when you have two minutes to kill. But it doesn’t offer any sort of depth, so it would probably have been better off going the free-to-play route.

6/10

sunny-hillride

Sunny Hillride
By Sameer Desai

Platforms: iOS; Price: Rs 55

It’s a funny coincidence that this week, both Amit and I happened to chance upon games that emulate the Tiny Wings formula. Unlike Time Surfer, however, Sunny Hillride adheres so closely to that formula that you might even call it a clone – a less charming, more unpolished clone. It isn’t a bad game though, and it certainly tries to do a few things differently.

In this momentum based game, you control a car over several hills, hitting the throttle when going downhill and then letting momentum take over as you go over hills and into the air. While airborne, you can tap the car to perform tricks. The idea is to land on the downill areas of hills so you maintain your momentum. Strapped to the roof of your car are several bags, and each time you land badly, one falls off, lowering your score multiplayer, and of course, making you lose your momentum. Like Tiny Wings has water pockets to slow you down, here there are traffic jams.

This is essentially an endless running game, and you can either play it in endless mode, or try out the very short story mode. There’s no story to speak of, but there are a few other gameplay elements thrown in that aren’t present in endless mode. Most table is the gas tank. You’ll use up gas as you move further and you can pick up gas canisters along the way to make sure you don’t run out before the end of the level. There are four different environments to play through in story mode and the whole thing should take you about 10 minutes.

Sunny Hillride isn’t a bad game. In fact, I found myself playing it quite a lot. The problem with it is that it borrows too heavily from Tiny Wings, which does the same thing a lot better, and offers an additional game mode and offline multiplayer.

5/10

wave-trip

Wave Trip
By Sameer Desai

Platforms: iOS; Price: Rs 110

Wave Trip is a beautiful flying game where the level elements act as musical notes, creating music as you go along. Like so many flying games, you control your character, a triangular astronaut of sorts, on the left of the screen. You tap on the right of the screen to make it soar and let go to make it drop as you manoeuvre around the level. You pick up orange coins along the way to up your score and free your friends who are found trapped in bubbles, while blue coins act as score multipliers. Each time you collect a coin, you add another chord to your musical composition.

Wave Trip is a fiendishly hard game though. Also scattered around each level are pink enemies that are either static or move in fixed patterns. If you collide into one, your multiplier is reset. To combat them, you can activate a shield by tapping the left of the screen, which lasts only a couple of seconds and has a tricky recharge delay. So you’ll have to rely on your flying skills for most part, with the shield acting as back-up.

The beauty of Wave Trip lies in how the music plays out. You can tell when you’re playing well because the music comes together brilliantly, but stumble along the way and the music sounds broken and disjointed. Backing the wonderful, self-created musical score is Wave Trip’s charming 2D art style that conveys calm and serenity; quite in contrast to how the game’s difficulty curve will make you feel.

Wave Trip also packs in the easiest level creator I’ve ever come across. You are free to place coins and enemies as you like as you move from one section to the next. Thanks to a waveform passing over the level, you can constantly hear what your level will sound like as you create it. If you’re not in the mood to create a level, you can just jump into the Explore menu to try out other user-created levels and rate the ones you like.

Wave Trip is a competent and challenging flying game in itself, but the addition of the music and user-generated content takes it far beyond that. Its difficulty curve might turn some people off, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s one of the most unique experiences on iOS and one that delivers tons of great content.

8/10

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