We’ve had our share of flying-based 3D platformers and ANIMA Entertainment’s Crash Birds Islands [$0.99] looks to build on the genre with its own take on the experience. Unfortunately, a decidedly average gameplay experience combined with spotty controls and a harsh difficulty keep the ride from being anything but smooth.
Crash Birds Islands uses a tilt-based control scheme for steering your bird, with altitude and direction controlled via tilting your iOS device forward or on its side, respectively. Level s are separated by worlds, with each world offering several predetermined objectives that range from collecting all the coins in a level to reaching the end in a specified amount of time to destroying walls made of boxes and so on.
Accomplish the objective and you’re awarded a star that allows you to move on to the next mission (assuming you make it to the end alive). Each mission is also judged on a secondary timer with additional stars awarded for completing a level quickly. While the worlds are somewhat varied and certainly offered difference experiences, the objectives never changed which lead to a tedious experience. The fact that the objectives themselves weren’t particularly engrossing and represented the simplest of goals found in platformers.
Being a 3D flying platformer, one of the most important aspects for Crash Birds Islands are its controls. Unfortunately, I found the tilt controls a bit too sensitive, especially in later levels where the difficulty ramps up. Even worse, there isn’t an option to even modify or fine-tune the tilt controls (although you can invert the axis, if you wish), which feels like an important omission. Also, gamers that aren’t fans of tilt-based games are not going to find a reprieve – Crash Birds Islands is tilt-only.
My biggest issue with Crash Birds Islands is its reliance on purchasing supplemental items and characters using its in-game currency in order to succeed. At the beginning of each level, you’re given the option to purchase either a helmet or a jet pack (which is actually required for some of the missions). You’ll quickly see from the first level on you will never earn three stars unless you purchase the jetpack and the faster characters. Of course, said purchases require coins, which can be obtained through normal playthrough. There’s also the convenient option to buy all the coins you need via IAP to instantly give you a leg-up on progress. While it isn’t hard to earn coins for these power-ups, the fact that they are one-use only and must be purchased per level feels like an easy ploy to encourage the IAP of coins.
One bright spot in Crash Birds is its visual system, which is colorful, cheery and decently implemented. The game’s country-themed music also does a good job reflecting the lighthearted aesthetic and the birds are also cute and feel like they have personality. Crash Birds Islands also runs at a decent framerate, with little slow-down experienced during the actual gameplay on current iOS devices. While the framerate works well, the game does suffers from long load-times even on an iPhone 4S.
Unfortunately, nice looking visuals aren’t enough to propel Crash Birds Islands above the rest of the 3D platformers on iOS. For fans of platformers, Crash Birds certainly has enough to satisfy any itches for a new game. However, the iffy tilt-controls, suspect upgrade system and lackluster objectives do little to appeal to anyone else.
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