Thursday, June 27, 2013

Whirl The Squirrel [Dioxis Mining] - $0.99

There’s not too many games that can match the pure enjoyment and type of gameplay that Sonic brought the platforming scene back in the day. Cordy did a great job with the acrobatic mechanics, but as far as level memorization, speedy gameplay and the drive to keep playing after you’ve completed the game, it fell a bit short. Rayman Jungle Run was close, but the speedy aspect of it could have been a bit better. Now, as gamers, we’re incredibly lucky when the influence of old-school games is met with some borderline obsession and the talent needed to pull off one hell of a gameplay experience that comes very close to matching the feeling of the game that the influence came from. Enter Whirl The Squirrel, a new platformer/racing game from the minds of Dioxis Mining. And believe me when I say, it’s like the little brother that Sonic always wanted but couldn’t seem to find throughout the years. 

Starting up the game, you’re greeted with a charming intro where Whirl goes to check on his things before bedtime. After hugging them all goodnight a huge tornado came barreling towards his home. For some reason, he locks the doors and goes to bed, pretty much without a care in the world. Waking up, he finds his things strung about outside and realizes that the tornado had partnered up with his ‘nenemies’ and that they were outside trying to collect all of his things. So begins the race to collect all of Whirl’s treasured things.

Now, while it may not sound like much content, there are 18 levels split up between 3 different environments. However, you’ll quickly realize that there’s an incredible amount of replay value, especially if you’re going to try and find all of the ‘hidden areas’ and get a gold time in every stage. Right off the bat, you’ll need to realize that Whirl is not your typical speed-run platformer. Like playing Sonic and trying to get the best time you can, you’ll need to play thorough levels a few times before actually trying to go and beat them. Memorization is a key element here along with quick reflexes and the willingness to play a level more than a couple times. If you go into it treating the game like your typical League Of Evil type game, chances are you’ll get incredibly frustrated and in fact, you might not even give the game the chance it deserves.  

In each stage there is an objective that you’ll need to accomplish in order to beat the level. Most of the time, you just need to beat the nenemy who’s trying to collect a thing before you, but in some stages, you’ll need to run multiple laps or even just collect a certain number of flowers in a given time-limit. While the screen-shots make the game look like an ‘auto-run’ platformer, you are given virtual buttons for left and right movement as well as a jump button and while the first couple of stages will have you pretty much just mashing down on the directional buttons once you get further into the game, delicately maneuvering your character while in mid-air will become a huge part of beating the nenemies and flower collecting.  

The hazards and obstacles which you’ll need to maneuver around and through aren’t, by themselves, too original, but the way that they’re incorporated and laid out in the hand-made levels makes them feel fresh and interesting. While collecting flowers, if you collect enough you’ll get a rocket pack on your back which helps you speed up through the levels. Then some enemies will zap you, slowing you down, others will freeze you and you’ll need to press the jump button multiple times to break free while others come at you in specific patterns and you‘ll need to figure out the timing of your jumps perfectly in order to avoid them. Some hazards will cause your directional buttons to reverse, other objects will send you skyrocketing into the air if you jump while on them and combined with some pretty malicious hazard placement can really ruin your run if you’re not careful. There’s also orangy blob things that take collected flowers away and slow you down and pink crystals which, if you hold down the jump button while racing through them, will send you on a super jump which usually involves you jumping over or through a bunch of hazards, enemies and obstacles.

On top of the racing aspect, all of the hazards, the obstacles and the enemies, there are also secret hidden areas which you can try and find in each stage. Little pink crystals will usually help you find these hidden areas, and they’ll either contain time stopping pick-ups or just take you on a precious time saving shortcut. All-n-all, with all of this combined together, it makes for some hectic, incredibly fast-paced, challenging gameplay that gamers looking for a hardcore gaming experience will just eat up. 

The framerate is solid and everything runs incredibly smooth, with no skips or jumps, which is essential in a game like this, and with the 3 leaderboards on top of the gold-times, there’s almost an infinite amount of replay value here. Not to mention the 21 hard to snag achievements. With Whirl The Squirrel priced at a measly $0.99 and containing NO IAPs (!), it’s a game that’s insanely easy to recommend, especially for fans of Sonic who have been looking for another speedy challenge to take on throughout the years. There’s also a 4th world that’s in the works and soon to be fully customizable controls to look forward to in the future. Right now, the only negative things that I can say about the game are that the difficulty level might put some gamers off, and with only 18 stages, even though it will take you quite some time to complete them all, it still might feel a little light in the content department. But aside from that, there’s really not much more that I can say other than PICK. THIS. GAME. UP. NOW. You won’t regret it.


Post a Comment