Last week indie developer James Gamble released his newest iOS game SpikeDislike [99¢], and I've been enjoying it a lot ever since (while simultaneously beating my head against the desk due to its difficulty). The goal is to move your bouncing ball to the right as far as possible while avoiding an endless series of spiky objects. As the name implies, you dislike these spikes, as hitting just one will instantly end your run. SpikeDislike is a game that is painfully simple to play, incredibly difficult to master, and even harder to put down.
Your ball will bounce automatically at its own pace, and holding down on the screen will advance it to the right. Spikes are set at various heights throughout the level, and each one you successfully jump over (or bounce under) will net you a single point. A gauge at the top will slowly decrease after clearing a spike, and quickly jumping additional spikes before the gauge runs out adds a combo to your score. Play continues in this fashion as you see how high of a score you can rack up before fatally running into one of the spikes.
It's so simple, yet strangely compelling. The single control mechanic works perfectly, so you always have good control of you ball. The difficulty lies in the risk/reward factor of the combo meter. Playing it safe and carefully jumping each spike one by one will ensure you live a long time, but you'll never approach a meaningful score in this fashion. Trying to move at a brisk pace so as to keep your combo going is what this game is all about, and you can reach some pretty insane scores if you manage to keep it up.
SpikeDislike originally launched with just a single game mode, but has already been updated with a lot more options. You can now choose from 3 overall difficulties, as well as 3 different speeds for the movement of your ball. There's the choice of two different paths of spike placements or the option of having them be randomly placed. Each combination of these options has its own high score associated with it, too. Additionally, there are 4 different graphical skins for the game, which are all various types of retro goodness.
SpikeDislike is one of those games that is frustratingly fun. Every time you die you know exactly what you did wrong, and it's both quick and easy to jump in and give it another shot making it hard to quit playing. The number one thing this game is missing is online scores, as it's just tailor-made for such a thing, and hopefully the developer can add Game Center functionality in the future. He is active in our forums taking in any feedback or suggestions, and although it won't be everybody's cup of tea, SpikeDislike is a simple and fun challenge that's worth checking out.
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