App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Animal Super Squad is a physics platformer that falls somewhere within the realm of both Trials and LittleBigPlanet. You choose an animal pilot, put them in a ridiculous vehicle like a toilet car or a bike helicopter, and try to wiggle your way through levels littered with all sorts of hazards and puzzles. It's a platformer that aims to feel sloppy, which results in some goofs to enjoy, but more often it just feels frustrating.
Each level of Animal Super Squad is just a matter of pure survival. The only thing you need to do is make it to the end with your animal character intact. Sometimes, you might breeze through a level with barely a scratch on the vehicle you’re driving, and at others, you may roll across the finish line as a cooked chicken (yes, your animals can be cooked) with no vehicle to speak of.
Instead of looking like a race track like most games featuring vehicles, Animal Super Squad makes you traverse environments that don’t seem to be designed for any kind of vehicle or person, but you need to find a way to make it work. By feathering your throttle the right way, tilting your vehicle just so, and activating boosts and other powers at just the right time, you can make it through tons of harrowing situations, which can be both thrilling and absurdly amusing.
At any given point in Animal Super Squad, you’re moments away from crashing into something, but wrecking doesn’t immediately stop your run. Unlike something like Trials, Animal Super Squad lets you crash and continue playing. You can simply flip your vehicle back onto its tires (if it has any), and keep pressing forward, or you can ditch the vehicle entirely and roll your animal driver around by themselves. If you are wanting to restore your vehicle or try a jump over again, there is a restart button that instantly transports you to a checkpoint with a new vehicle.
On top of all of the tracks that Animal Super Squad has baked into its single-player mode, the game also features a user-generated levels that you can try out as well. At the time of this writing, there is no way to make your own levels or browse newly uploaded ones on mobile, but each new app update provides a list of curated user tracks for mobile players to check out.
There’s a lot that makes Animal Super Squad feel like a pretty complete package, but the sticking point that persists throughout the whole experience is the way the game feels. Since you’re driving vehicles over all sorts of bumpy and hazardous terrain, driving doesn’t feel particularly great. A lot of the experience involves inching over things only to hit boost at the right moments, and trying to race your way through any given level just isn't really viable.
In addition, it really doesn’t help that Animal Super Squad features an odd touch control layout that you can’t modify at all. You can sidestep this issue entirely by playing the game with an MFi controller (which helps make the overall game feel much more controllable, as well), but if you want to play Animal Super Squad with touch, you’re left with an awkward control scheme for an already awkward controlling game.
The bottom line
If the movement in a platformer doesn’t feel good, there’s a huge issue. While there may be a few exceptions to this rule, Animal Super Squad isn’t one of them. This particular brand of adding vehicles to a platformer is interesting and occasionally thrilling, but doesn’t save the game from feeling awkward almost all the time.