Developer: ENTER-BRAIN-MENT
Price: $5.99
Version Reviewed: 1.01
Device Reviewed On: iPod Touch

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆

In Somersault, the new release game from Enter-Brain-Ment, you take control of Flip, a helmeted hero who is trying to save his home from invading aliens. You must guide Flip across a fractured world to save his people. Instead of walking and jumping, however, Flip gets around – with your help – by bouncing everywhere to collect coins, defeat enemies, and battle bosses.

While there’s a neat idea behind Somersault, it isn’t executed well. For one thing, Flip doesn’t bounce with real physics – he bounces like a Super Breakout ball, a weightless thing propelled by your push through space. This makes planning his bounces a difficult task; and while the game tries to mitigate that with large gray arrow pointers, the fact that they needed to add those arrows is telling. I would much rather see a more realistic and reliable physics to the game that I could anticipate and plan for.

In part because of the physics, bouncing Flip is also more complicated than it should be. You don’t just flick him or tilt with the accelerometer; you have to draw bouncing pads in his path, with their length determining the force of the bounce and their angle determining direction. I found that the easiest way to direct him was not to let him bounce, but instead to draw a pad and then swing it, almost like a bat, not so much bouncing our hero as swatting him forward, then jumping over to draw a second pad in front of him to slow him down or redirect him. I do not think that this is what Enter-Brain-Ment intended, but the bounce physics almost demand it.

Actually, many things in Somersault seem to be more complex than they need to be. For example, to select a menu option, you don’t tap a button, but instead have to slide a slider. Or, when you lose a life, you must tap Flip in rapid succession to “resuscitate” him. I enjoy novel touch interactions as part of the game play experience, but Enter-Brain-Ment would do much better to innovate more touch controls during actual game play, then to unnecessarily complicate these ancillary moments.

The whole design sense of Somersault also takes some getting used to. The visuals are bright and gaudy; characters are bulbous orbs, “coins” are perfectly square, colors are cartoon-bright, and whole worlds are built from candies and cookies. The soundtrack, in contrast, is very synthy and very 1980s sci-fi. The two do not mesh well together.

Ultimately, Somersault has some interesting ideas behind it, but it falls flat in the execution. Especially for its regular price of $5.99, it’s not a game that I can recommend.

Posted in: Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

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