The clue is in the title
Chillingo and physics games go together like cheese and crackers, so it was no surprise to find yet another game reliant on some sort of physics mechanic in my list of Apps to review. This time the game turned out to focus on a rather nifty little swing mechanic.
Swing the Bat isn't, as you may think from the title, a baseball simulator. It's actually about a little bat who cannot fly and relies on a rather strange leg that can stretch and stick to walls instead. I know, I don't make these ideas up.
What this actually means for the player is that your little bat needs to be controlled by a grappling hook style system, hanging from available scenery to get from left to right. Being a creature of the night, you need to make it as far as possible before the sun rises, which technically means the game is Tiny Wings in reverse. To make further comparisons, Swing can sometimes fly after eating enough berries, using a touch system that seems fairly familiar.
A plethora of deadly animals stand in your way. Pandas block your path with bamboo, Monkeys throw bananas and, if you happen to fall on the ground, the Lion will come prowling, leading to a fight scene where you'll need to tap the screen to continue, losing precious time.
Two modes are on offer from the menu; Dusk Till Dawn is the traditional mode that sees you outrunning the sun, while Night Fire tasks you with keeping above the raging flames that threaten to toast your little bat. The latter is a tricker mode to master, but comes as a welcome change of pace.
Cute cartoon-style graphics also help to make Swing the Bat memorable. Backgrounds are nicely animated and all the animals look fantastically mad. Despite the amount of stuff going on as you swing through the forests, it's always clear where you need to attach your leg next and there's never any noticable slowdown.
While this on its own would make Swing the Bat a fairly run of the mill App Store game, Chillingo and developer Deadbug have cunningly added a bunch of extra features that turns it into a bit of a gem. Going back to those Tiny Wings comparisons, the game uses a similar goal system that forces you to replay levels over and over in order to complete tasks. Perhaps 'forces' isn't quite the right word as it's actually a joy to go back through the game, trying to get that little bit further and striving for that high score.
Another neat touch is that new bat costumes are unlocked as you get further through the game, allowing you to choose from such diverse costumes as pirate bat, cowboy bat and even skeleton bat. Small ideas like this help to give a game character and Deadbug have achieved this in spades.
Not everything is perfect, though. Crystal tries hard to act as a global high score system, but it's showing its age when up against Game Center or Openfeint and it seems a little out of place next to the chunky fonts of the game. It would have been better for Deadbug to use a system when the top scores were perhaps shown on the menu, rather than relying on the overly small Crystal screen to do the job. That said, with EA now in charge we may see a general move towards the Origin system.
Small niggles aside, though, Chillingo have yet another hit on their hands. Swing the Bat has just the right balance of endless swinging and achievement collecting to create an addictive little game that keeps you swinging on back for more.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 9
Page 1 of 1