Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad
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Can a copy be better than the original? My standard answer to that admittedly generic question is a clear-cut no, but games like Trucks & Skulls HD challenge my own prejudices against direct copies.
Let's be clear about this: Trucks & Skulls HD is a top-down, re-themed version of Angry Birds HD. And, amazingly, it's just as addictive, if not more so.
I was completely primed to dislike Trucks & Skulls HD from the moment it loaded on my iPad. Similar premise, similar load screens, similar level structure and design - what is new here to like? Strangely, more than you might think. Yes, the two games are very, very similar: launch objects with varying properties and powers at structures in an attempt to destroy "enemies" (pigs in Angry Birds, skulls in Trucks & Skulls), but the key factor in the success of both games seems to be in the theme more than the mechanics.
Where Angry Birds features a cutesy, cartoony cast of animals, Trucks & Skulls HD uses an ultra-machismo, hyped-up-80s-hair-band aesthetic, replete with wailing guitar licks throughout. The only thing missing is the obligatory "Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!" announcer. But in some way this theme resonates and works with the mechanics of the game, maybe even better than the oddball "pigs and birds" motif of its predecessor. Plus, its over the top approach just makes it plain funny.
Trucks & Skulls HD also ups the ante on Angry Birds by offering a full-on level editor - the same editor, in fact, used by the game's designers. Creating and saving levels is a breeze, and you can share these new creations via a built-in email sharing feature. This latter feature is clunky - you have to open the email, and click the level in order to load it into the game - but it will no doubt get enhanced as the developers continue to refine the game. Additionally, it doesn't hurt the game that it's currently $1.99, a full $3 cheaper than its angry competitor.
The moral of the story, then, dear children, is, "Don't let your prejudices against copycats keep you from trying a very good game." You might be surprised by your reaction.