Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4
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In far too late in the game to start crying "fowl" when a popular iOS game spawns legions of knock-offs. We’ve seen it with Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, and Cut the Rope.
2011’s top game to copy was arguably Tiny Wings, an endless vertical runner/flier. With its simple touch controls and entrancing graphics, it has captivated gamers of all ilk. Some of the knock-offs are low-budget affairs, but some famous if derivative games bring enough innovation to make them candidates for game of the year on their own merits – Jetpack Joyride comes to mind.
Paper Wings isn't quite laughably slap-dash, yet it fails to capture the imagination or the elusive addiction factor that ultimately determines a game's success. This offering has players controlling the flight of hero Blu, yet another iBird who needs help staying airborn, this time from a paper plane. Oddly, Blu is most decided brown on my iPhone, but color notwithstanding he flies ever forward dodging obstacles, aiming for power ups, collecting fruits and gliding through rings.
There are missions to complete and score multipliers to earn following the formula to a tee, and hitting a wall or particular “negative power up", ends the game. There are four worlds which unlock sequentially, but it’s not altogether clear which objectives open unlockables, which grant access to new levels, and which earn tokens.
This lack of clarity is the first sign that the game was not really thought all the way through. It feels like the developers cobbled together what seems to work elsewhere without much thought to coherence. The controls deserve props, though. They are unusually responsive for a game of this calibre, and the graphics, while nothing special, have some charm.
Where the game fails, however, is in defining itself. The instructions and tutorial contain poor English syntax and just plain awful word choices, like “negative power ups”. The writing confuses the already muddled goals taking away much of the replay value one finds in games whose logic and progression are more clear.
Paper Wings also pushes the monetization model too far. In-app purchases are to be expected in free games, but here if players don’t want to spend any real money, a plethora of “offers” are available to complete. The pressure to buy or complete these offers is on almost every screen. Even the tutorial seems to boast that it will take more than skill to get the best goodies.
Ultimately, Paper Wings is one of those games I will likely keep on my phone for a few days, which is about as long as it takes me to fill it to capacity, and then quickly discard. There are just too many great games for around $.99 that provide the same basic gameplay with originality, stunning visuals, great challenge and more replay value.