Mobile Games Roundup

Bumpy! Frisbee! Hydro! Contraptions! Starfront!

No sooner have I hit 'send' and filed another excitable mobile roundup, I've got people ranting and raving about the next great mobile classic that I should definitely, totally cover.

Such is the pace of the market at the moment, it's no wonder that the industry veterans with the most to lose are getting all hot and bothered. Dennis Dyack was at it last week, bemoaning the "dramatic disruption" of the mobile games industry.

But while it's easy (not to mention lazy) to slam the "17,000 fart apps", what's more problematic isn't so much the endless crap that appears - that's easy to ignore - but that there are so many good apps coming out. All the time. And really cheap.

It's a bit like the situation in the music industry, where so much great stuff exists between the cracks, and yet so little actually makes money. If it's true that the average gross for an iOS game really is $700, few will survive the great App gold rush.

Bumpy Road

  • iPhone/iPad - 1.79 (Universal binary)

You should never judge a book by its cover, but what about judging an app from its icon? Bumpy Road would have us believe that it's a wistful journey about two ageing lovers going for a pleasant country drive in their tiny car.

That much is true, but you're probably just a big old cheat if you guessed that it was also a slightly twisted platform endurance mission where death is only a pothole away.

1

Take me home, bumpy road.

Just like Simogo's similarly charming Kosmo Spin, the designers are on a mission to mess with the conventions of control. In Bumpy Road's case, you don't so much control the car as the entire environment, and have to guide the couple on their trip by manipulating the ground beneath their wheels.

Doing so is akin to running your fingers across a keyboard; as you swipe across the landscape, each 'key' bulges upwards obligingly. This, of course, allows you to fashion slopes that tilt the car left and right and give you the means to build up speed or go into reverse.

In the game's Evergreen Ride mode, the goal is to simply keep going as long as you can, and doing so involves collecting all the tat littering the level while trying your best to avoid dropping into a hole.

Averting instant doom is trickier than it looks, though, with a slightly fiddly jump mechanic that involves tapping underneath your car. What should be a simple process appears to confuse the game more often than you'd like, and quite often you'll tap firmly, only to wind up steering your car down into the abyss.

Elsewhere, the Sunday Trip mode avoids such petty annoyances by removing the holes and turning the game into a race to the finish line, but it doesn't quite have the one-more-go appeal to keep you coming back.

Whether you'll stick with Evergreen Ride probably depends on how invested you are in collecting the photographs that reveal the game's story. As effortlessly charming as the beautiful art style is, Bumpy Road veers perilously closely to being style over substance.

7/10

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