This deceptively simple flash game is a great little time-killer that has consumed 6 hours of my time. For that reason I think I am in a good position to judge how it should be ranked in the video game canon.
The first thing that is very impressive in this game is the graphics; they are very beautiful for a mobile-phone game. The animations are particularly well done, with the fire from Mr. Cuddles and the varying jetpack animations illuminating the immense progress that phone games have made in such a short space of time. With the splendour of the graphics, however, also comes the risk of lag on some phones. The game runs very smoothly on my Sony Xperia, but I have seen comments stating that some people have experienced lag on some models. Unfortunately the game does not give the player the option to tone down the aesthetics to make the game more manageable, so for some people this game will simply be unplayable.
Those that can play the game may be disappointed by the simplicity of the gameplay; it plays very much like Copter with the added addition of different vehicles and coins, but the basic premise is the same. Press down your thumb to go up, and let go to go down. This simplicity can become boring, but the increased speed as you progress in distance and the allure of the coins, along with the slightly different mechanics of some of the power-ups (the teleporter being the prominent example), ensures that the player has ample reason to continue playing. The controls may be simple, but the gameplay is not. However, the simplicity of these controls can start to bore the player after prolonged periods of play, and one finds themself wishing that the developers had added some more complex gameplay mechanics to break up the spouts of relative monotony that are sometimes experienced.
This boredom is partially counteracted by the most interesting and compelling aspect of the game, it’s RPG-style system. Players level up every time they complete challenges, which range from easy ones, worth one star (run 500m, for example) to the relatively hard, worth as many as three or four (travel 1000m in a lil’ stomper in one run). With each level up comes coin and once the player has reached max level (15) they have the choice to ‘prestige’ in Call of Duty fashion and repeat the levelling process all over again, receiving a special medallion in the process.
This RPG system is coupled with ‘the stash’ which is the game’s marketplace. Myriad items can be bought here, ranging from the useful things such as new gadgets or jetpacks or one-use items like head starts, to the showy, like a new helmet or jacket. These two aspects of the game are by far the ones that will keep players coming back again and again, levelling up and collecting new items. They go a long way to offsetting the boredom that would be felt if the game was simply its core mechanics, and adds an addictive element that would otherwise be absent.
Although this RPG system is good, there are a couple quibbles that see it fall short of being great. One is the repetition of the challenges. Once a player has levelled up a few times, they will see themselves repeating the same tasks, with slight variations, over and over again. Once they have max-levelled, they will see themselves doing the exact same tasks every now and again. The game would be much better if there was more variation in the tasks. Instead it is things like ‘travel 1000m’ followed up a couple levels later with ‘travel 600m’. These tasks are fun, and sometimes challenging to complete, but the lack of variation ensures that even they become boring after a while.
Something else that would have made it better is if ‘the stash’ had a few more items, with more variation, and if the jetpacks had clear, distinct differences shown by stats. The jetpacks, as far as I can tell, seem to simply be for show, that or they differ in near imperceptible ways (aside from visuals, of course). The RPG element of the game would have been vastly improved if the player had tangible, observable changes in their jetpack performance as they progressed, as opposed to simply getting prettier animations.
This game, then, is neither amazing nor terrible. It mixes simple controls with satisfyingly complex gameplay, and an RPG system that may have shortcomings, but goes a long way toward ensuring that the player’s enjoyment and compulsion to play doesn’t wane too quickly. It is an enjoyable game to play on the bus or when you having nothing else to do, but falls short of being anything more than that.
Before I reveal the score I am going to give the game, I think it would be helpful for me to give you my scores for some other games that I hate and love, to give you a frame of reference. Counter Strike Source, which I think is one of the best games ever created, I give a 9. Mass Effect 2, which I adore, I give an 8. World of Warcraft, which ate so much of my life, I give a 7. Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 get 8’s. Overlord, which is an awful game, gets a 1, as do most movie tie-in games.
I give this game a 6.
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