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Cliffed Review: Falling for it

Cliffed, the latest release from IUGO Mobile Entertainment, has a lot going for it; it just hasn’t got a lot of content. The game offers a wealth of polish and personality, but is its charm more than skin deep?

There is only one goal in Cliffed: to run for as long and as far as possible. It’s all about going the distance. On first play, you have only one character; by reaching certain longevity goals, however, you can unlock up to 12 playable characters; a 13th character can be unlocked by successfully inviting friend to play through the IUGO VIP program. The differences between characters are cosmetic only; they are all equal in regard to playing the game.

Your character chosen, you begin your descent. You start at the top of  a “cliff” and work your way downward through holes in the ground. As you drop, you will occasionally find your way blocked by boulders. Running to side of the screen will allow you to wrap around to the other side, circumnavigating the obstacle and allowing you to continue downward. As you progress, the screen will scroll downward automatically, picking up speed the deeper you progress. To ensure your survival, you must outrace the top of the screen. Let it catch you, and you’ve been cliffed. Game over.

Cliffed features a multiplayer mode that works over both 3G and Wifi connections and which pits you against up to three other players. The lobby will match you with opponents automatically, and in my experience it’s been easy to join games. In multiplayer, you can win one of two ways, either by being the first to descend 1,000 platforms, or being the last player not cliffed.

Controls are simple; there are arrows on the left and right sides allowing you to … (wait for it) … run left or right. Double-tapping an arrow will execute a dash, granting a brief burst of speed.

Cliffed offers an experience similar to Canabalt, but vertical, and similar to Doodle Jump, but in reverse. It doesn’t bring any new ideas to the table, but what’s here looks fantastic and plays extremely well.

Likes:

Presentation: Cliffed may very well be IUGO’s best looking game to date. Animations are smooth, the artwork is top notch and it all comes together very nicely with the sound. The menus and buttons are easy to read, easy to navigate and look great. The title logo is nicely designed, and even the game’s icon looks fantastic.

Characters: I love the characters. An anime schoolboy, an alien, a teddy bear, a robot, a slime monster, an angel, a ninja, a wolf-rider and a guy with a television on his head are but a few of the characters you can choose from. They’re all brilliantly designed and animated, with loads of personality. Just as IUGO reused characters from its Toy Robot series, I dearly hope we will see these characters used again in future games.They’re just too good not to become standards.

Pick Up’N Play: Cliffed is the very definition of a casual game: easy to pick up and play, hard to put down and offering infinite replayability. It loads quickly, it’s easy to jump into and a single session can last anywhere from five to ten minutes.

Multiplayer: The multiplayer mode does much to add to the lasting value to the game. The lobby is breezy and effective, and gets you going quickly. You can register an account with IUGO, or login as a guest to play. I only wish there were some way to keep a friend-list. Matches are always random.

Dislikes:

Short & Repetitive: Cliffed offers one level. That level features one obstacle: boulders. And you can die in only one way: by failing to outrace the screen. Unlocking each of the 12 characters gives you a reason to keep playing at first. But once you’ve done that, lasting value really depends on how much you enjoy the multiplayer.

Cliffed is recommended, but with reservation on account of its brevity. It’s charming and polished, but I wish it were less of a one-trick-pony. It’s like MiniGore all over again — it makes a brilliant splash, until you realize the pool is only waist deep and diving isn’t allowed.

Things I’d like to see in an update? More levels to choose from would be great. Or perhaps do as fighting games, and give each character their own unique level; gameplay could remain the same, but with different looking backgrounds and obstacles. Maybe levels with traps and roving enemies to avoid, rather than having only boulders to go around. Some platforms could have multiple holes, one to safety and one that drops you onto spikes. Another trap, when triggered, could cause the screen to abruptly come smashing down one or two levels. Maybe some power-ups allowing you to temporarily move faster, or to slow the screen scrolling a short while. Power-ups would be too easy to collect just sitting on platforms, but maybe if they were attached to balloons and rising, so that you would need to carefully time your descent to catch them. Of course, current gameplay should remain intact in a “Classic” mode. But there are loads of new features that could be added in various extended modes. New characters would be awesome; I formally request a pumpkin-head and a scarecrow. The game did release the day after Halloween, after all. It would also be great to have some competitive power-ups available in the multiplayer mode — speed pick-ups, maybe a weapon or two used to attack nearby opponents or those ahead of you, or traps you can drop for those coming behind. Think Mario Kart and run with it, IUGO!

But even as it presently stands, Cliffed is a quality title and easy to recommend. It’s a prime example of a simple concept executed exceptionally well, and the multiplayer is icing on the cake.

buy

Cliffed is developed by IUGO Mobile Entertainment, and sells for $1.99; reviewed at version 1.0.0 on an iPhone 3G.

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