This week's haul of new games had a lot of weird stuff in it, like Backflip Madness [$1.99]. I included it because there's a huge contingent of people who can't seem to get enough of these various physics games, and honestly, I didn't expect a whole lot from the game. When 11:00 Eastern rolled around, I downloaded it with everything else, and haven't been able to put it down since.

Here's the premise: Do a backflip, then another backflip, and another. That's it.

I'm big into getting the bad news first, so let's dive into why this game is terrible. First off, the physics are beyond janky. You'll mess up endlessly, yet somehow miraculously stick really weird landings that you have no business doing unless your shoes were coated with a liberal layer of super glue. The graphics aren't that great, background textures clearly repeat and your little backflipping dude has the animations of a simple paper doll. The music is repetitive, the UI is weirdly basic, and most of the in-game systems such as choosing different styles of backflips are remarkably unintuitive. Oh, and if you've got friends playing it, you'll get an endless stream of Game Center push alerts with their scores.

...Yet, I can't stop playing it. It's one of those games that are so bad, and so simple, that there's this endless feedback loop of "I should be able to do this, why am I failing, I KNOW I can do this," which leads to never giving up- Particularly as you start to see the proverbial Matrix, have a string of five perfect backflips in a row, then fall flat on your face.

Here's how it works: A single button in the bottom right corner handles all the action. The first time you hit it, your dude starts to kneel down. The second time you hit it he jumps up. The third time you hit it he crunches into a backflip position. The fourth time you hit it he extends his legs to land. That's it. The first jump in the first level has you just performing a backflip in place, and things quickly escalate to much larger jumps, including arching over obstacles and jumping off basketball hoops to land inside of the designated area marked with orange cones.

The brutal difficulty of this game feels more like a roguelike than a physics backflip game. You have three lives, fall on your face three times and you start the whole level over. Initially this seems annoying, but it's just stupid how intense this makes things. iOS games don't often make me yell in real life, yet, I've lost count at the number of audible "OH COME ON!" that have been invoked as I make it farther than I ever had in a level then just completely bungle my backflip. Game over, start over.

The "just one more try" factor is through the roof, especially as you fully realize just how simple the task at hand is. Do a backflip. Press a button four times. That's it! It's infuriating, but impossible to put down. People in the forum thread also seem to be having similar experiences.

This is such a weird game to even review, as I can fully admit its flaws are numerous, and it's definitely not for everyone... But, any game that has us yelling at our phones definitely deserves some attention.


We also posted a TA Plays video of Backflip Madness:

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • Alfalfa

    Lmao, what a review title!

  • Karzay

    I'm not sure why you guys use a star system when it does't even reflect the review.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      "Our final scores are not the product of any traditionally objective measures such as graphics or sound, but simply reflect the games we would most recommend to others."

      • Karzay

        Then wouldn't a thumbs up or down work better? People tend to think that you weigh the good against the bad and figure out your star rating.

      • Karzay

        Also, maybe change the "TouchArcade Rating" to "TouchArcade Recommendation." By rating something, you are classifying something based on the comparative assessment of quality, standard or performance.

      • bradnicholson

        Nope. That's not what our rating system does.

      • Karzay

        I can see that. I gave you the definition of "rating." If that's not what you are doing by your star "rating," then it should be called something else, like "Recommendation."

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        I'd rather get rid of scores entirely, but we live in a world where people need a number attached to everything. For the first two years of TouchArcade we didn't score reviews at all. People actually read reviews then, and would draw their own conclusion instead of getting mad/pedantic/dismissive/whatever about whether we gave something a 4 or a 4.5.

        I just had a lot of fun playing this game.

      • Karzay

        That's cool. I'm glad you liked the game. The rating actually does factor in whether or not I read an article. If it's a good rating, I read to to see why, but if it's a bad rating, I skip it unless I had already played the game and have an opposite opinion.

        I think if you had a thumbs up or down, I would treat it the same way, but I wouldn't expect the rating (recommendation) to reflect the contents of the article as much. The rating or thumbs up is just a quick visual reference to summarize why we should or shouldn't care about a game.

        It's only a suggestion to switch to a thumbs up or down icon, but there would be less to argue about if the rating doesn't reflect the review.

  • Greyskull

    So...is this the worst game you've ever given 4 stars, in your opinion? I've spent many hours playing terrible games, so I completely understand the "you get it or you don't" nature of the game. The hours (probably approached years...) I spent playing Dynasty Wars sequel adter interminable sequel...

  • LauraFitz4

    I feel like this is a perfect candidate for a TA Plays video.

  • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

    There's one coming later today.

    • riggysmalls

      OP delivers

  • riggysmalls

    This review is perfect. The game isn't terribly well made by any means, but it is very fun and addictive. With time and effort it could be one of my favorites.

    Pros:
    -challenging and fun gameplay
    -easy to pick up but hard to master
    -cannot put down/one more try type of game

    Cons:
    -strange physics for landing (flipping is perfect though)
    -once you figure out how to play well the few levels go pretty quick
    -not enough variation in levels/jumps

    Overall this game has a ton of potential. I would most like to see a Level Editor with user created level browser.

    • rawr=3567

      I agree once u master its core mechanivs its easy as pie! Like I finished the first level then started having trouble at the 5th or 6th level, but no matter what this game is A DEFINITE for casual and hardcore gamers alike

      • rawr=3567

        I meant MECHANICS

  • homosaur

    Deserves four stars just for the blood spray when you hit a cardboard box

  • CricketDude

    Downloading

  • ImJPaul

    I haven't been able to play year walk or anything else because of this. It's not a game. It's a virus, an infection. Must.....do......more.....backflips.

  • toxiccheese

    This game. ugly and terrible. Must... keep... playing... Just one more time. This next time I'm going to make it... Someone please take this away from me...

  • Boobi

    This is the type of game I avoid by a large margin. Ty or the TA plays video.
    After seeing Brad in Nimblequest and now in backflip I am starting to thinks Eli should play ;) to someone jinxed Brad.

  • Appvism

    I guess the title of the game is appropriate then, madness!

  • XvEsunavX

    One does not simply put down backflip madness. I would know having had it a little longer than most. Incredibly addictive still.

  • Amishninja

    I' m in love. I can't stop playing. As a pakour/ gymnast this game is addictive. Trying to do quad flips and front flips and all sort of crazy stuff. Would love a way to save replays. That would be awesome. Thanks Ta for making me aware of this amazing game.

Backflip Madness Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 4