The endless high score game is a popular genre in the App Store, as Doodle Jump and it's 5 million downloads will attest to. One of the more recent titles to catch our eye is Oddy Smog's Misadventure by two-man developer Medusa. At first glance you might just dismiss Oddy Smog as a clone of Glu Mobile's Jump O'Clock, and while true they share similarities at the very basic level Oddy Smog offers a pretty different experience that we're finding hard to put down.
Oddy is just a small bit of a much larger mass of smog working it's way upward to expel out of the machine that created it. He decides that he doesn't want to be a part of this pollution any longer, and so breaks out on his own ahead of the rest of the smog. He must use the different gears inside the vent to propel himself upwards faster than the mass can follow him, and one wrong move will engulf him back in the dirty blackness from which he came. It's a charming premise with equally charming graphics and music to accompany it. The vent you travel up is rendered in 3D giving it some depth, and Oddy himself is a billowing, lively little puff of smog that manages to have a lot of personality for being essentially a black circle with eyes. There's just something endearing about Oddy, and you find yourself rooting for him to escape his smoggy pursuer.
Holding the right side of the screen latches Oddy onto a gear he comes into contact with, and letting go launches him using the spinning gear's inertia. You don't shoot straight off the gear like you would in Dizzypad for example, and this aspect takes a bit of getting used to when you first start playing the game. Touching the left side of the screen makes Oddy jump in midair, and you can only jump once between touching either gears or the walls of the vent. If you do launch yourself into the wall, Oddy will climb a short distance and then jump off by himself and from there you can latch onto another gear or perform a midair jump to get where you need to go. Occasionally another errant smog blob like Oddy will be chained to the wall and if you jump into these guys you can release them. This acts as the score multiplier, and will multiply your total height by the number of prisoners you catch.
There are different types of gears to latch onto, some can only be grabbed for a short period forcing you to act quickly, and others will propel you high into the air letting you easily cover a good stretch of distance. Other special items do similar things, like a spaceship or teleportation pod that will advance Oddy for you. All these game elements combine to make for a really engaging experience. It's a great feeling to quickly hit a series of gears or narrowly escape the impending doom of the approaching smog, and the risk/reward aspect of trying to free prisoners adds a lot to the formula. There's some hints that this might not be such an 'endless' game, and that there's the possibility of Oddy actually escaping the vent, although I have yet to make it that far.
A couple of small gripes about the game are present, and the most notable is the lack of high score tracking. A game like this is just meant for such a thing, although the ability to post your scores to Twitter helps somewhat. The dev has conceded in the game's forum thread that this is due to waiting and seeing how Apple's Game Center will turn out, and likely a social platform of some type will be added down the line. Another problem I had was due to the random generation of the level, and every so often a section would be too barren for me to latch onto any gears and I'd helplessly fall back into the pursuing smog. Finally, there's no screen flip option which can be pretty annoying for a game that encourages the use of headphones. None of these issues should deter anyone from trying Oddy Smog's Misadventure, and for randomly generated high score game enthusiasts this is one that's not to be missed.
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