Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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Flyhunter Origins from Ripstone and Steel Wool Games offers a solid demonstration of how mobile games are getting a bit ahead of themselves.
Players zip through Flyhunter Origins as Zak, an alien janitor aboard a flyhunting spaceship. During some impromptu roleplay, Zak accidentally jettisons the ship's crew and its cargo (bugs) into space. Then they promptly fall back to Earth. Zak needs to round up the crew and the bugs or else he risks making his powerful boss very unhappy.
Zak runs and jumps through some very colorful and creative environments (of particular note is the sassy garden gnome statue that the ship's computer identifies as a native "object of worship"). He's tiny and the world is huge, so there are hazards galore including frogs, Venus fly traps, pits, water, and hostile bugs that can mostly be disposed of with Zak's flyswatter and blaster weapons.
It looks fantastic and its character and enemy designs are likewise fluid and charming. Which is no wonder, as the visuals are the work of Pixar alumni.
But that lush beauty comes at a price. Foregrounds are hard to distinguish from backgrounds. A limited field of vision means enemies can be hard to spot before they pounce. It's is nearly a gig in size, and even the iPhone 5 shows just the tiniest bit of frame rate chug. The final and most significant problem is the one that afflicts the majority of mobile action games: though the touchscreen controls are good, they're not perfect. And "perfect" is what's necessary in a game that features such intense platforming.
On occasion the action shifts from 2D to 3D as Zak flies through the air and hunts down livelier cargo bugs. These sequences are pretty fun, and generally control a bit easier than the usual platforming segments.
One problem with Flyhunter Origins is not knowing where Zak can rest his little feet. It's often hard to tell if a graphic is part of the detailed background or is safe to step on. This gave me a particularly big headache in the swamp level, which is full of flowers and brambles.
The controls are a bigger problem, where sliding a thumb forward makes Zak creep and sliding quickly makes him sprint. In theory the feedback should work like the circle pad on any controller, but without the actual physical sensation of said pad it can be difficult to be certain I'm feeding Zak the necessary momentum for a tricky jump. And given that Flyhunter Origins calls for a lot of leaps off very short platforms, there isn't always an opportunity to cut the attempt short and try again.
Flyhunter Origins is worth all this criticism because its graphics and parts of its presentation shine as examples of what mobile games are capable of. The game touts itself as "A Pixar movie you can play through," and there's no arguing the fact the cinemas are highly-polished and often hilarious.
All that said, Flyhunter Origins is a very affordable download. Some players may find the frustrating bits worth powering through just to see all its cinema scenes. But be advised, older siblings: Prepare to be on hand to help out youngsters that will no doubt be charmed with Zak's antics but will need assistance with harder parts of the game.