Thursday, January 31, 2013

Banana Kong [FDG Entertainment] - $0.99

FDG has been on our ‘list of publishers to pay attention to’ list for quite some time. Actually, since 2010 with the release of Across Age, one of the best Zelda-esque games available on the iOS. Now with their latest release, Banana Kong, they have done something incredibly special; Hit the #1 spot on the iPad Paid Apps list in iTunes! Now, it’s no secret that this is one of the most coveted achievements for an iOS developer, so the fact that Banana Kong has done it is, in itself, amazing, but behind everything that comes with the #1 spot on iTunes is a very well developed, entertaining and challenging game that has a pretty decent potential to be worth your money as well as the time you’ll wind up sinking into the game.

With Banana Kong being an Endless Runner, I know that there are plenty of you out there who are just sick to death of the genre, and really don’t want to give this one a chance. In fact, I was one of those people for a while. But I gradually got back into them around the time Jetpack Joyride and Ski Safari came out, and now, some of my favorite games being released these days are endless runner type games because, like just about every other genre out there, endless runners are evolving again, adding to the typical auto-runner gameplay. With that being said, Banana Kong doesn’t add anything new to the genre, which is strange considering it’s positioning on the iTunes charts, but I’m sure it’s the game’s simplicity that’s drawn so many gamers in. 

You’ll control Kong as he speeds through the jungle collecting bananas and avoiding various hazards. With each run, you’ll have the opportunity to complete 3 objectives which, in turn, reward you with bananas that you can spend in the game’s power-up and utilities shops. The controls are simple enough; tap to jump, hold while in the air to glide, swipe down to drop down from a platform or bounce harder on treetops and flowers, and swipe right to activate your boost, which is available after collecting 11 bananas. This boost ability lets you smash through rocks and other hazards and also allows you to enter the upper treetop area if you boost while swinging on a vine, or go down into the jungle caves if you boost into an entrance. If you fall into the lava in the cave system, or don’t bounce off of a treetop, you’ll be sent back to the main jungle area, however, if you run into an object like a rock or other hazard, it will be game over. 

In the power-up shop you’ll be able to purchase upgrades for the various animals that you’ll encounter like the giraffe (who can save you while you’re in the treetops), boar (who can destroy environmental hazards) and the toucan (which carries you over water, collecting bananas until you run into an object), magnets, special rainbow bananas worth 30 bananas and your glide ability. In the utilities shop you can purchase one time use items like extra lives, boosters, full dash bars and a water bounce which saves you once from falling into the water. These upgrades and utilities are fairly high priced, especially considering when you first start up the game, chances are you’ll be earning around 100 bananas per run and most upgrades start at 1,000 bananas while items range from 300 for a full boost bar to 2,500 for an extra life. Luckily, completing objectives will earn you around 100 bananas for completing them, and with the possibility of completing 3 per run, they will help you out quite a bit. 

If that’s still not enough bananas for your taste there are, of course, IAPs. Free bananas if you want to sign up for and go through the hassle of downloading more apps through TapJoy are available, and then 2,500 bananas for $0.99, 7,500 for $1.99, 15,000 for $2.99 and 50,000 for $7.99 are all available for purchase. This might bother quite a few gamers, but considering it’s an endless runner, and the whole point of the genre is to play over and over and over again while trying to beat your own, as well as others, high scores, it might not bother other players. If the upgrade/item prices were a bit lower, it might really ease the sense of the whole ‘pay to move up the leaderboard’ feeling that a lot of gamers will most likely have. 

Aside from the expensive items, Banana Kong is your typical endless runner that will appeal to both casual and hardcore fans of the genre. However, it is very well polished, and does have a certain amount of charm that will keep most players coming back time and time again. As you can imagine with the game hitting the #1 spot on the iTunes charts, there are quite a few GameCenter players (191,812 at the time of writing this review), so you can bet that there’s some pretty stiff competition going on in the score-chasing department. On top of the leaderboards for distance and number of bananas collected, there’s also 33 hard to snag achievements that will keep players busy for quite some time. 
Priced at $0.99 and being a Universal app, Banana Kong might not add anything new to the runner genre, but it could be a nice addition to any iOS gamers collection. So long as you don’t mind putting in quite a bit of time so you can max out all of the upgrades and then work on purchasing the one time use items, Banana Kong has the potential to give you hours and hours of entertaining, well presented, charming gameplay. 


Just picked this one up, thanks for the review!

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