Hopefully you should know that we’re no strangers to Shaun Inman’s The Last Rocket [$1.99], a cute, colorful puzzle platformer that we absolutely loved in our review. Now, Shaun’s back with Flip’s Escape [$0.99], a pseudo-sequel that dramatically changes the game play. While the move from puzzler to endless runner is sure to perturb folks that were looking for a true sequel, Flip’s Escape still succeeds within its new genre while still including the aesthetic and feel we enjoyed in its ‘prequel.’
Flip’s Escape follows the end of The Last Rocket with the cute rocket protagonist (spoilers!) escaping from his desolate ship just as it plunges into a star. Unfortunately, the ship’s destruction leads to a supernova reaction of some sort as Flip now has to escape the wrath of the sun while dodging random asteroids. Thus, the goal is to keep Flip alive as long as you can before the sun or asteroids get to him, with scoring based on total distance.
In addition, stars orbiting around the asteroids serve as filler for Flip’s star meter which serves several purposes. The first involves collecting enough stars to create a star shield that’ll save you from one asteroid and force you to collect stars to build the shield again. This allows Flip to continue the run while also earning diamonds (the in-game currency) from the destroyed asteroid. If you manage to collect enough stars without asteroid collisions you enter into warp mode where you go much faster and earn far more diamonds.
Speaking of diamonds, an in-game shop allows you to outfit Flip with several consumables (such as an extra life) as well as hull upgrades and ‘friends’ such as a rat that will let you earn a diamond for every ten units of distance traveled. Consumables are cheap enough, but the permanent upgrades are quite expensive. Still, I felt that the diamond earning potential was good enough and doesn’t really force you to splurge in the mine (the diamond IAP shop) to pick up the upgrades.
One of the things we enjoyed about The Last Rocket was the amount of attention paid to simplistic controls that just worked. Flip’s Escape follows a similar theme, but not without some initial bumps. As you try to escape the sun, Flip will automatically move across the screen from left to right. Tapping on the screen engages the brakes and stops Flip from moving, allowing asteroids to pass by but also bringing the sun closer to the rocket. Brake enough times and the sun envelops Flip and ends the run.
While extremely simple, Escape’s control scheme can be a little hectic. The fact that you have no direct control over Flip besides braking requires some amount of prediction as to where he’ll end up in relation to the asteroids coming down the screen. In addition, since stars orbit around said asteroids, you’ll find yourself always wanting to get as close to the asteroids as possible to collect the stars without hitting them.
There’s a lot of precision which involves an initial learning curve as you learn to distinguish between stars that are obtainable and ones that are simply traps. Of course, the fact that you can bust through rocks with enough stars adds another layer of strategy as you decide whether it’s worth it to keep star power as a security blanket vice going into warp for a greater score. Personally, I think it’s a much better control scheme than other endless runners because of the increased emphasis on patterns and reflexes, but I can see how some would balk at it. Regardless, the control scheme itself is as simple as it gets while still providing gamers with a bit of strategy.
Of course, we’d be remiss without mentioning the retro visuals in Flip’s Escape, which do a great job preserving the overall aesthetic from The Last Rocket, complete with careful attention to every icon, backdrop, and menu screen. The same goes for the music, which was a catchy 8-bit rendition with enough nostalgic appeal to complement the rest of the game.
I imagine the biggest complaint we’ll hear about Flip’s Escape is the fact that it isn’t The Last Rocket 2. However, for folks willing to put that aside and take the game for what it is, you’ll find a well-done enjoyable endless runner that continues the story of Flip in an appropriate genre. Sure, the controls may not be as approachable as its predecessor, and the game may be a bit simplistic for even an endless runner these days, but the implementation is solid, and the look and feel is a perfect carry-over from The Last Rocket. If you’re willing to take that into consideration and go on this derivative adventure, by all means check out Flip’s Escape.
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