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Our Review by Bonnie Eisenman on April 23rd, 2009
Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: FALLS THROUGH
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Freefall'n is a bland falling-based game with difficult controls and a simple premise. Jumping out of a plane still doesn't appeal to me, and it takes too long to be a good casual game.

Developer: BunsenTech
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound [rating:3/5]
Game Controls [rating:2.5/5]
Gameplay [rating:3/5]
User Interface [rating:4/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:2.5/5]

Overall Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar

Jumping out of planes in real life is generally a bad idea. I'm not one for heights, but kudos to those who have the stomachs for skydiving. But in Freefall'n, as the developers cheerfully point out, jumping out of the plane is the easy part; the hard part is managing to rack up points. Oh, and you have to survive, too. (It's always good to remember that last bit.)

Freefall'n places you in control of an orange Gumby-like guy who apparently has a penchant for taking risks. (God knows why he placed his life in my hands.) Using accelerometer-based controls, you have to guide him in his descent, collecting stars and falling through hoops. You also have to control his landing by launching his parachute, which is enabled after you snag a red star; pull the parachute's ripcord too late, and he'll crash. There's also a landing target you can shoot for for bonus points.

I was initially baffled by the control scheme, to be honest, and for a while I was crazily tipping my iPod every which way, hoping to maybe snag one star. Improving took me a while, and I was beginning to think that I was just inept, but then I discovered the calibration option. Oh. Duh. Every tilt-based game ought to have a custom calibration option, but most don't; I was glad to see it here. After some fiddling, I've kind of got the hang of it. Hmm. Mastering the art of the freefall is harder than I'd like, and despite the custom calibration, I'm still struggling a bit.

Freefall'n is designed to be a simple game (and with a single level, it is), but there's some variety to it. The three different difficulties give players of all abilities a chance to succeed (I'm sticking with Easy, thanks) and the game keeps track of your high scores. Falling also isn't a linear experience. You can follow different paths of stars down to the ground, and each yields its own rewards. Achievements are also incorporated. (You can find those in the cleverly designed menu.)

Graphically, the game is pretty good. I like the Gumby-guy, and the cartoony stars and hoops look good. The background is an actual sample of aerial photography. It's a cool addition to begin with, but having just one background gets old. The same goes for the cheesy elevator-esque music. While there's nothing wrong with the music per se, it gets boring quickly. Some whooshing-air sound effects would be appropriate, but instead you get...elevator music. Odd.

The floaty sensation you get as you descend is arguably one of Freefall'n's strengths. Lazily navigating along the star paths is both challenging and calming. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that this might work against Freefall'n to some extent; the gameplay isn't overly compelling, and it takes too long to be a "perfect" pick-up-and-play game despite its pause feature. Still, at least the achievements will add some incentive to replay the game. (Though mind you, nabbing any of those should really feel like...well, and achievement.) My other criticisms are mostly nitpicky. The jumping animation at the beginning, for example, feels nitpicky; the autozoom sometimes acts oddly as you near the ground.

Freefall'n isn't a bad game, per se, but I'm not enamored of it. I think it's one of those disposable buys that will quickly begin to gather digital cobwebs—there wasn't enough substance to keep me interested, and at the end of the day, cheerfully leaping from a plane still doesn't strike me as a grand idea. If you want some soothing high-flying accelerometer action, I suggest you give Glyder instead.

iPhone Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

Freefall'n screenshot 1 Freefall'n screenshot 2 Freefall'n screenshot 3 Freefall'n screenshot 4 Freefall'n screenshot 5
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