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Developer: Chillingo LTD

Price: $.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Bats are usually remarkably capable night fliers, but like the star of a different and wildly popular endless action-flying title, the hero of Chillingo’s new game, Swing the Bat, lacks this normally innate ability. Instead he has a grapple leg – a retractable sticky appendage – that can hook to cave walls and trees and let him swing rapidly through a succession of either repeating forests and caves, or through a fiery cavern.

While the character has a look of his own, the gameplay calls Tiny Wings to mind and it uses the same formula of having a series of challenges to add score multipliers rather than levels to complete. On top of the score boosts, each set of acomplishsments opens a new look for the flying mammal.

There are two distinct game modes. The first, Dusk till Dawn, borrows a bit more from Tiny Wings, but in reverse. Instead of flying until dark, the bat falls asleep at daybreak. The basic objective is to get as far as possible by timing swings just right and eating enough fruit to occasionally sprout wings.

The second, Night Fire puts the bat in a cave where he must keep on top and ahead of the singing flames. This mode more complicated because it’s not just about distance. There are water-filled buckets attached to balloons which need to be overturned to help keep the flames at bay.

In both there are a number of impediments to progress, mostly in the form of angry Asian animals. Pandas throw bonking sticks; monkeys hurl bananas all trying to knock the bat down. A fall in Dusk till Dawn is not lethal, but it awakens a tiger that is waiting to pounce. If the bat doesn’t grapple himself out of the way quickly, he’s in for a sound thrashing and a lot of wasted dark.

The goals vary up gameplay and add replay value. At various points gamers must concentrate on flying further, or overturning a set number of buckets, but also more daunting tasks like triggering the tiger’s appearance several times and deftly escaping, or pulling 360′s all the way around trees.

The graphics are really nice. They have a campy cartoonish appeal. Just enough is happening on the screen to make the game fun, without weighing it down. That said, some variety in backgrounds would be nice – each mode has a repeating cycle with increased difficulty, but nothing new to look at.

Swing the Bat lacks the utter simplicity of Tiny Wings and the artsy feel, but it replaces them with its own unique design and challenges, plus it has multiple modes and it’s universal. I’m a big fan of endless games and have a new keeper – if you like them too at .99 Swing the Bat is definitely worth the pick-up.

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