Commuting Cognition: Taxi Surfer, The Floor Is Lava

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.


Taxi Surfer

Taxi Surfer is an endless jumper that has you jump onto moving cars instead of dodging them. Specifically you need to jump onto taxis and avoid jumping on other cars, making your movepool significantly shorter than in your Crossy Roads, and consequently making the game much harder.

Adding to your limited number of safe jumps is also the fact that you can’t move sideways. If you end up going too far on your taxi trip, the only way to get back in a safer position is by riding a taxi the other way, which is often not a viable option. The lack of a “chasing wall of death” (there must be an actual name for this) means that you have unlimited time to think about your jumps and potentially plan ahead for these limited moves, but that’s really not the feeling you want to aim for in this type of game, because it’s not how players are going to face it.

It also doesn’t help that the perspective feels somewhat messed up, as often i ended up dying for making jumps that i swear should have landed on a taxi but landed on the car next to it.

The game doesn’t feature a gacha reward system, instead relying on the traditional get-what-you-want shop model, potentially because the character selection isn’t very high. There’s also a free two-hourly coin bonus, i think; hard to tell when tapping the button gives you no feedback whatsoever. The permanent ad on the bottom of the screen plus occasional interstitial ads also do little to ingratiate the game.

It’s very hard not to compare games like this to Crossy Road when they very obviously copy so much from it. And consequently there’s really no reason to recommend this when Crossy Road does everything better.

The Floor Is Lava

The Floor Is Lava is an endless runner that has you jump onto nearby platforms to avoid the floor, which turns into lava every few seconds.

It’s a pretty cute concept, but there’s really not much there mechanically. Your only meaningful decision is whether to jump onto a platform before the countdown-to-lava starts, which can make the character automatically jump back just as the floor turns to lava, or risk not having nearby platforms once the countdown does start, which isn’t a terribly interesting decision.

The game also doesn’t reinvent itself in any way, its only mechanical progression being the countdown gradually becoming faster, so it gets dull quick.

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