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Developer: Chilibite Entertainment
Price: $.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Circuses have always given me the creeps. I can’t be alone; they appear in too many horror plots. Stunt Bunnies Circus, by Chilibite, riffs on the dark side of the three-ring with its new pick-up-and-play arcade game. The graphics are imaginative and comedic, and the core gameplay is fun. But in-your face in-app purchases, and spotty controls stop me from loving the title as much as I expected to from the opening cut-scene.

Meet Ringmaster Fox aka Claude Reynard. He has some seriously evil intentions. He plans on blasting his performers – a cast of bunny clowns, bunny acrobats, bunny strongmen and the like –  out of cannons with no safety net. Worse,, what they don’t know is that if they fail to impress, they’ll become supper. Only jetpack-powered Jet Bunny can rescue them by flying around, catching them and landing them safely.

The game starts in Story mode, which is level-based. Players quickly learn about Jet Bunny skills, and the characteristics of each of his mates. For example pink aerialists fall slowly, while rainbow clowns bounce around unpredictably.

There are five chapters, each with Monsieur Reynard adding new hazards. There are torches, fireballs, even an underfed lion trying to take out our hero and his comrades. Playing Story mode unlocks Arcade mode, which is an endless variation. In both, obstacles deter our hero but don’t kill him. Letting too many furry friends drop, however, makes for a failed mission.

The control scheme is my favorite sort – one-touch. Players just tap where they expect the airborne bunnies will enter the playing field trying for combos. Getting five bunnies in one move adds bonus points, but requires an immediate landing to unload. The controls’ execution, however, isn’t great. My Jet Bunny was consistently flying just slightly off course.

The graphics are hilarious. Stunt Bunnies Circus is supposed to be the first in a line of games and I look forward to seeing the crazy critters in other settings.

That said, there are a few things I find off-putting. First is the endless push for players to pick up power-ups which can be bought with in-game currency. They provide vital properties if one is aiming to do well, like extra rocket fuel, crash mats and fire proofing. But earning in-game currency isn’t easy. It’s far too tempting to spend real money for limited-use boosts, and no way to stop the shopping option from popping up every round. And Story mode could use a few extra chapters as well.

Still Stunt Bunnies Circus is compelling. It’s hard not to try “just one more time” and even harder not to laugh out loud.

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