Version Reviewed: 1.0
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For their follow-up to the critically acclaimed Zen Bound, Secret Exit has reached back into their past to bring the Dismount series to the iPhone. The original Stair Dismount game was released in 2002, followed by Truck Dismount a year later, and has been heralded as one of the first games to utilize ragdoll physics. Whereas Zen Bound is beautiful and mesmerizing, Stair Dismount is decidedly more humorous and cathartic, and it shares some of the same level of polish necessary to turn a simple idea into something much more engaging.
The star of Stair Dismount is a crash test dummy that you get to hurl down a flight of stairs. There are six staircases in total, each offering a perilous runway of varying height and shape. The dummy is always positioned at the top of the stairs, and you can move an arrow around to indicate where you'd like to shove him. There is a fluctuating power gauge, and you then hit the dismount button at the desired strength to propel the dummy on its fateful journey.
What follows is ragdoll ballet, as the dummy careens down the steps and finds itself in various uncomfortable and bone-crushing positions along the way. You can rotate and pinch-&-zoom to see all the carnage, and various icons and damage indicators pop up to show you just how successful you are at inflicting maximum damage. Once the limbs have stopped flying, you get a total score, and can bring up a stat screen that graphically details all of the pain by body part, as well as how many somersaults were accomplished. You are very conveniently given the option to take a photo at any point of your dummy's flight, which allows you to save a polaroid of the event, as well as share with your friends via email or Facebook.
Besides the ability to share in-game photos, you can also choose to place a photo of someone's face on the dummy before playing. You can use a picture from your photo albums, or again tap into Facebook to grab one of your friends’ mug-shots. It is the little touches like this that elevate Stair Dismount from similar games of this genre, although it would be nice to be able to save your favorite face selections. A special mention should go to the sound as well, which is very satisfying throughout, and decidedly cringe-inducing when you score a big fall.
Stair Dismount has that play-one-more-time quality that is necessary for a game built around small, repetitive segments. While the 6 devious staircases included are nice and will keep you busy for a while as you attempt to perfect your runs, the game could stand to use some more of them via update. The addition of true leaderboards would also seem like a no-brainer for an app like this, and would help with extending the experience even further.
When push comes to shove, Secret Exit has again crafted a worthy game that is built around a simple concept and then spit-shined to a super glossy degree. The overall design, interface, and attention to detail is top-notch, and is loaded with potential. Although not quite as ground-breaking or compelling as Zen Bound, Stair Dismount is at worst a fun distraction, and a finely-honed one at that.
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