In younger years, many of us used to sing along with the crows in Dumbo: ” Well I be done seen ’bout ev’rything/When I see a elephant fly.” But those old crows might be surprised these days to see elephants bouncing on clouds – well, at least one elephant, that is.
Meet Clumsy Bob, a sweet looking purple elephant with large eyes and a dream to fly. Thankfully, Bob has help in the clouds, and plenty of sky to travel. But there are also pitfalls along the way in this arcade-style iOS game, and publisher Chillingo wants to know if you’re up to the challenge.
Green Cloud, Blue Cloud
Clumsy Bob is a distance game, similar to games like Hedgehog Launch and Learn To Fly . The main objective is simply to go as far as you can, besting your own high scores, as well as those of your friends. Keeping it simple, there are no upgrades required to go further distances, and controls make use of the iOS’s accelerometer, allowing for simple motion to guide the player to their goals.
The player controls Bob, an elephant who can simply move left and right across the screen. Each time he touches a cloud, Bob will bounce back up; miss a cloud, and Bob will fall to his doom. To move Bob, players simply need to tilt the device, with a heavier tilt resulting in increased speed. Menu commands, including retrying and sharing scores, make use of the touch screen. Score is earned by distance and by coins collected.
Bob’s path is littered with plenty of obstacles, but the most basic is the cloud. From the basic green and blue clouds, which offer a basic bounce, to sickly green clouds, angry red clouds, and more, players must focus first on landing on new clouds to keep going. Coins are found floating in the sky above Bob’s head, as well as sometimes carried by birds flying by. Dangers and boosts also lurk among the clouds. While Bob may find an umbrella, a spring, or a rocket to help him further, he may also find evil mice that will gobble him up and other nasty surprises.
“Whee!”: The Little Things Stack Up
As a simple arcade-style game, Clumsy Bob is easy to get an understanding of in just a few game plays. Controls are effortless, and involve the player in the action of the game with their own motion. With no finish line, players are urged to keep going a little more to try to improve their best efforts; yet the game’s design also supports quick, casual play that allows a gamer to play a single round whenever they have a spare moment. The publisher was also careful to include social network sharing and gaming networks, allowing players to share, compete, and earn achievements.
While the core game design supports addicting spurts of gaming from its players, the real key to Clumsy Bob ‘s success lies more in the little things less noticed. The colorful, vector style graphics are bright and easy to follow on the game screen, but the detail put into them may go more subconsciously noted. The backgrounds, for instance – which are randomly selected at game start – each have their own theme, and each have a little darkness and danger drawn in. One aquatic themed background features not only fun fish-trees, but also cruel looking whales hiding among the rainbows; another features sailboat shadows painted into the sunset, but hungry looking plants in the hills below. Cloud expressions, and the little detail put into each graphic object, is astounding for what amounts to a simple game.
The sound effects and audio track also must be mentioned. The soundtrack for the game is upbeat, bouncy, and encouraging; it has an ascending tempo that lends a little bit of the “hurry, hurry” mentality to rushing across the screen as far as possible. The sound effects themselves mirror this cheerful nature: from the comical “boing” each time Bob bounces and “Whee!” he sometimes exclaims, to the “Ahhhh!” when he falls, each sound lends to a whimsical and downright cute auditory experience that can’t be done without.
The Elephant in the Phone
A challenge remains: can Bob do more? Many distance games feature upgrade systems, allowing the player to purchase boosts that aid them in their quest to new scores, but these features are missing from Clumsy Bob . While the game remains fantastic in its current incarnation, it could offer more by placing in an upgrade system, story, or goals, granting players even more motivation for “just one more play.”
For all its simplicity, Clumsy Bob is still worth its 99 cent pricetag in the App Store. A high quality game with ease of controls, vivid gameplay, and that magic that urges you to go a little further, Clumsy Bob is one of the best quick action games available for the iPod touch and iPhone.