Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Zoidtrip is ultimately a fairly conventional little endless arcade game, but its undercurrent of warm and fuzzy low-key strangeness makes it so much more enjoyable. It’s not enough to be weird - you have to be weird where it counts.
The weirdness begins once players notice how Zoidtrip recalls one of the most flat-out bizarre series of all-time: Nintendo’s WarioWare. Zoidtrip is basically a new version of the recurring Paper Plane microgame originally featured in that title and later rereleased on DSiWare. Both games have players tapping to cause a falling object to change its direction slalom-style, whether it’s a paper airplane or in this case an odd little sea creature. Flipping the trajectory of descent is the only way to avoid obstacles coming in from both sides and to conform to the shifting path as the walls open and close. The system wrings a surprising amount of nuanced play from just one action. For example, to fly straight players quickly alternate falling slightly to the left and right. Players also need to account for how changing directions affects their speed and angle.
But where Zoidtrip forges its own identity is in its delightfully off-kilter atmosphere. With bubbly colorful backgrounds that change each round and a vague undersea vibe, it almost has a SpongeBob SquarePants feel to it. However, the game purposefully avoids explaining itself so the cute little tentacled Zoid triangles could be white kites with strings for all we know. Seeing their shadows projected against the backdrop adds another intriguing layer of artifice. Just don’t confuse these Zoids with Japanese robot animal models and anime franchises. But whatever they are, unlocking new expressions for them - whether it’s toothless grins or serious man stone faces - is almost as fun as the game itself.
Zoidtrip is the best kind of modest success. You don’t need incredibly deep gameplay; just be thoughtful and fun. You don’t need lavish production values; just have a nice personality.