Commuting Cognition: BitChip Bounce, Canyon Crash – Fall Down

What is this?

I’ve never been a big mobile game player, but I ended up working in a mobile games company, so I’ve been trying to expose myself to more games in this market and attempt to gain an ever-better understanding of them. One of the ways I’ve been doing that is in trying out new games, seeing what they do wrong and right, and try to draw conclusions from them that I can use in the future to make our games better. One of the resources I’ve been using for this is TouchArcade (not sponsored), and their columns listing the new iOS games of the week.

This resulted in me playing a lot more new games during my daily bus rides, but I also feel the need to discuss them somewhere and keep a log of my thoughts instead of just internalizing them. So, Commuting Cognition. These will be brief, bus-ride-long thoughts on these games, and should be seen less as reviews and more as first impressions. They also may not be daily, depending on how full the bus is that day.


Bitchip Bounce

BitChip Bounce essentially has you playing pong against yourself. You control two characters and tap to make them jump, the goal being avoiding the ball in the center from going out of bounds.

As soon as my first match ended, which lasted all of two seconds, I was immediately treated to the equivalent of 100 xp, granting me a loot box which unlocked a new character skin. Now, i get that it’s important to hook your player quickly, especially in mobile, but this way it feels completely unearned. Have the first attempts give 10x as much xp, but make the player feel like they earned the loot, don’t just throw it at them. Nobody likes that achievement that pops up as soon as you launch the game [citation needed].

Ok, small rant over. The mechanic itself is interesting, having a single control for multiple characters. Every few matches an interstitial ad appears but these are few and far between and actually provide a decent pause from the game, which is the way to go about it if you absolutely have to use interstitials (you probably don’t). Once you close the ad you’re given the choice to pay to remove the ads, which is common practice, but not *every single time* an ad appears, guys!

The game’s difficulty immediately started at 11 for me, with the ball’s physics apparently being completely random, so you don’t really feel like you’re getting better, just that you were luckier with the physics. This means that the game gets repetitive very quickly, and i didn’t feel that the unlockable skins were enough of an incentive to stick around.

Canyon Crash – Fall Down

Canyon Crash has a very simple premise: send your character tumbling down a canyon to escape a laser coming from above, tapping to nudge it ever so slightly left or right.

The gameplay is really simple and would probably not require the wall-of-text tutorial screen that appears at the beginning; at most, a simple animation of tapping left and right would suffice. The gameplay is so simple, in fact, that it feels like we barely have any agency. The character is content to just fall down most of the time and only needs the occasional nudging away from obstacles.

This is clearly trying to bank on the ragdoll physics craze, but the art style actually runs counter that. You’d barely be able to tell the character has physics, with its chibi style making most of it immobile and its flailing limbs barely noticeable, completely missing the point of the ragdoll.

When you die you’re thrown ablaze down the stage for a while, breaking terrain and collecting more points all the while. This is a common tactic to make the ending more memorable and hook you into another play, but it’s not well executed here: it’s not terribly flashy, there’s no real “oomph” behind it, so the effect is lost and just makes you wait longer for the next game.

The game does have good ideas, however. The destructible environment is cool. The several potions you can pick up, that have effects like making you smaller, are also interesting and have some neat executions like granting you access to different paths down the cliff.

With some tweaks and a different art style i could see this having more potential. Tailor the art to your target audience!

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