Version Reviewed: 1.4.3
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
I was mercifully out of the mobile gaming loop during that dark time at the beginning of 2014 when the world went temporarily insane. I am speaking, of course, of the madness wrought by the abomination that was Flappy Bird. My return to 148Apps came as the rest of the world was crawling collectively out the hot ashes left in the wake of the game's App Store delisting. It was a post-Flappy Bird world and everything was different, changed. Flappy clones stalked the landscape, hunting for scraps and attaching themselves to confused, wounded consumers for sustenance. In time, society began to recover. And then, just when we had almost forgotten, Retry came along.
Unlike the endless procession of knock-offs, cash-ins, and clones, Retry actually finds Rovio substantially iterating on the Flappy formula, mixing in the star-ranked progression that drove their own mega-hit. Instead of tapping and flapping through an endless procession of pipe gaps, Retry has players guiding their tiny propeller-driven plane from airport to airport in an elusive search for that perfect landing.
It’s no easy feat to fly in Retry, with the inexorable grip of gravity and the drag of momentum screwing up those carefully laid flight paths. Too steep of a climb will pull you over into a loop. Not enough feathering of a descent sends you propeller-first into the ground. But when that sweet spot is delicately finessed out of the greedy grip of physics’ and you manage to glide gracefully out of a near-fatal dive, taxiing to the very edge of the final runway? Sublime. And hey, if not, just tap the screen again; there’s always another retry waiting.
A couple of elements can be grating, such as the ridiculously egregious sponsored levels (no thanks, Captial One - I’m good with my current bank). And those with a low tolerance for frustration likely wouldn’t be down for this kind of game in the first place. But those few concerns are easily washed away on the soothing neon crest of a synthpop and chiptune wave that sounds straight out of a 1980s television show. In fact, combined with the retro-styled graphics it’s easy to imagine Retry as some long-forgotten classic that never gained the cultural traction it richly deserved.
I enjoy that you can choose to watch an ad, rather than spending gold to unlock airports as restart points. It’s still a monetized decision, but having options allows players to pick which route of “paying out” they’d prefer to take: the time and skill required to finish without needing restarts, a brief ad, milking their premium currency, or dropping real cash. It’s a shrewd and calculated business decision either way, but I always enjoy having options rather than being forced down a single pathway.
Rovio’s Retry is a masterpiece of elegant simplicity. It rewards precision and skill, while still offering assistance for those who may need a nudge in the right direction. It’s the right balance of intensely frustrating and “I can’t put it down!” addiction that had people shelling out thousands of dollars for secondary market iPhones that still had Flappy Bird installed. However, this time around the experience is nuanced, deeper, and far more rewarding. I missed the dark days of Flappy Bird, but I don’t regret it one bit. I’m actually thankful, because I got to be here, untainted by its specter, when Retry came along and did the whole experience better.