App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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One Epic Game seems like an antithetical moniker for a PSP Mini game, but that's where Grip Games' perpetual motion platformer originally released last summer. While it was acclaimed by critics, like many Minis released onto the PlayStation Network it was rather neglected. Of course, the spiritual home for a Canabalt-like game is undoubtedly on iOS, and now that OEG has made it home I hope it receives the grand reception it deserves because it is truly excellent.
First off, the game is funny. While the humor is not always hilarious, in its story mode OEG strikes a chord with its one-of-us, self-deprecating jokes about the games industry. "Why can't there be a single action game without zombies in it???" the square-jawed protagonist cries moments before pitting you against a line of zombies. All of gaming's shooter clichés turn up like World War II, aliens, the BFG, and the shotgun. All of this is nodded to in the cut scene dialogue which is full of jibes at the immaturity that still pervades the media's blockbuster titles.
What's ironic, though, is how the painfully familiar arsenal of shotguns, machine guns, lasers, and flamethrowers helps to give OEG a unique feel in its own overcrowded genre. Each weapon power-up feels distinctive, has clear pros and cons, and forces the player to adapt his strategy as he runs and jumps through the levels. This considered 2D shooter play complements platforming levels that, while randomly generated from constituent parts, never feel too repetitive. The backdrop are some appreciably testing and diverse challenges which go far beyond simply surviving as long as possible. Also, I can't forget the wonderfully cheesy soundtrack which includes a fully-fledged operatic number for the medieval level and a grinding rock one to shooting those damned aliens to. My only negative points about OEG are that I wish the story mode was a little longer and added a few more individual twists into the play, and that the leaderboards were easier to find and negotiate.
One Epic Game may be a tongue-in-cheek name, but as it turns out it's descriptive. Grip Games have been working hard on their PSN Minis, but it's this iOS release that puts them on the map for me - a job very well done.