Commuting Cognition: Nitro Chimp, Overtake King

What is this?

I’ve never been a big mobile game player, but I ended up working in a mobile games company (opinions are my own etc), 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 internalising 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-impression brain dumps. They also may not be daily, depending on how full the bus is that day.


Nitro Chimp Grand Prix

Nitro Chimp is a lane-based action stunt racing game. If that sounds like a lot of words that’s because it tries to incorporate a lot of things, and loses some focus as a result.

Most of the controls are swipe-based, which i quite enjoy. Your bike accelerates automatically, you swipe left and right to change lanes, and do other swipes to do tricks: swipe down to do a wheelie, circle-swipe to loop in the air, etc.. There are also crates you can ride into to get items, which are used with a separate button. And this is where i feel the game starts being over-featured.

In my short run, the items didn’t seem terribly relevant. Perhaps they’re more relevant in pvp but most of the time i was just focused on performing stunts, which grant a speed boost and are essentially the key to victory. Consequently the mechanic feels gimmicky and like it was tacked onto the game just because Mario Kart did it.

The camera is really zoomed in and claustrophobic; most of the time you can’t really tell what’s coming ahead, especially in curves, which makes the lanes feel pointless. There’s also no signaling of enemies behind you, so it’s common to get totalled and have no idea why.

Interestingly the game has several race types for each track, like time trial and stunt score rush, but it keeps them behind level locks, which is a neat idea to expand content without needing more tracks while also not being overwhelming from the get go.

Overtake King

Overtake King is another generic endless racer. I really need to better filter the games i play.

You control a bike running down a road, and hold + drag to move it away from incoming traffic. The dragging is way too sensitive, which seems to be a common trend in these, but at least it’s drag and not tap.

Once you die you’ll get a continue screen with a huge video ad button and a small cross that doesn’t even look like a button and has a tiny tappable area, so you’d be forgiven for having trouble figuring out how not to have to watch a video. This is just insidious. You want to incentivise your players to watch ads, not make them feel forced to do it.

Also it’s really obvious that the cars are moving backwards, as opposed to you speeding beyond them, but i can’t quite put my finger on why. I think it’s because the background trees move way too slowly for how close they are to the road. It’s pretty distracting.

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