Does a game about a giant boulder bounding its way down a mountainside need a plot? Probably not, but it has one regardless.
To wit: a precariously placed boulder on top of a mountain wishes to be reunited with its partner – another boulder which is presently being chiselled into a statue for a town’s centrepiece. Let’s rock and roll, shall we?
Destruction is the theme in Adult Swim’s latest, and those who have played Beautiful Katamari (or its sequels) and the underrated XBLA/PSN tower defence game Rock of Ages will feel right at home, as Giant Boulder of Death takes inspiration from those two.
It’s Katamari’s art direction that has been pilfered, rather than the controls (thankfully) or the ability to make the boulder bigger over time. This minimalistic, angular, styling works wonders in the game’s favour, keeping the speed up and allowing for countless objects on screen at once.
One nice idea is that you rise up the ranks new objects are added to the mountain range – everything from Yetis to additional bungalows. Keeping the mountainside looking fresh prevents tedium from settling too soon.
As for the Rock of Ages comparison, let’s just say the townsfolk don’t take kindly to your rampage. Almost as soon as the game starts they begin to erect walls of spikes and other deterrents. One collision is all it takes for the boulder to go to pieces, sending out debris for one final bout of destruction.
Fortunately not only can the boulder leap through the air to escape danger, via a simple tap of the screen, but once a power-bar has been filled it sprouts spikes, becomes bellowed in flames, and is able to destroy even the spiked walls. Keeping an eye on the power-bar is vital – on more than a few occasions we got a bit carried away just before this power-up ended, causing us to smash into something mere seconds after the boulder transformed back to normal.
A second chance can be given if a shiny gem is in your procession, but these are hard to come by. Unsurprisingly, more can be purchased via IAP. Coins are another in-game currency, but these available more freely and are used to purchase upgrades such as faster turning abilities, and the chance to fill the power-bar quicker.
It’s a tad more nagging than some mobile games when it comes to promoting additional purchases, which is something of a shame – the only real downer on what is a rather cleverly designed game. The tilt controls work well and the basic premises is a sound one – as the boulder gets further down the mountain it picks up speed, making it even trickier to dodge what’s ahead.
Even with the adverts and annoying prompts though, Giant Boulder of Death still gains our recommendation. You’d think that given their background, Adult Swim’s games would be nothing more than crass promotional “tools” for upcoming shows, but just like the delightful Robot Unicorn Attack 2 proved, they do seem to care about quality.
All eyes on their next game, then.
iOS: iTunes App Store (free)