Developer: Pebble Pinky Studios
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Regardless of how much money vacation-goers spend on their tropical getaway, there’s no guarantee their good times won’t be truncated by an unfortunate event. Sharks, for instance. Food poisoning. That weird stomach-flip that comes with drinking the native water. Or, in the case of Tidal Drive, a big honkin’ tidal wave.

tidaldrive_01Tidal Drive is a level-based running game from Pebble Pinky Studios. Players begin each run by lounging on the beach, when a sudden tsunami puts an end to the peace. From there, surviving means alternating between running on-foot and driving the vehicles scattered across the beach (screw the parking laws, we kind of got a national emergency going on!).

Running on foot is done by tapping alternatively on the left and right sides of the screen. Driving is more traditional: The right side of the screen is the gas, and the left side is the brake. Players spend the majority of each level in a vehicle of some kind, which is advisable since the tsunami moves pretty darn quickly.

As the player moves, they gradually run low on energy, which is measured by a bar on the bottom of the screen. Energy can be refilled by tapping the pop advertisements the player runs past. However, each energy refill adds to “fatigue” – a red bar that creeps from the right side of the energy gauge and shortens the amount of energy that can be refilled. And if the player runs out of energy, they stop running and the sea claims its own.

Swapping between driving and running makes Tidal Drive a pretty intense running game. Unfortunately, the driving physics lack polish, resulting in a lot of unfair deaths. Regardless of how gentle the player goes on the gas, or even if they adjust the driving settings to make vehicles easier to control, the buses and cycles invariably flip onto their backs and flail as helplessly as turtles. The player is then forced to abandon ship and run.

tidaldrive_05That wouldn’t be too bad, except passing a level usually requires the player to stop their bus and rescue other beach-goers that are seemingly incapable of rescuing themselves. Every passenger restores energy, which is good, but missed passengers take away health. Problem is, the vehicle has to be at a complete stop before passengers will get on, and more often than not, jamming on the brakes causes the getaway vehicle to flip.

Tidal Drive successfully delivers a sense of urgency, but that urgency comes with a heap of frustration as well. However, with some fine-tuning of the game’s controls, this runner could become a very memorable visit to the beach.


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