It's no wonder that endless runners have earned the bad reputation that they have. It’s just too easy for iOS developers to crank out one after another, each relying on in-app purchases and familiar game mechanics to make their money.
Flyro [99¢] is an endless runner (or endless flyer I should say...) that takes a different approach to the genre. Instead of being free-to-play and forcing players into an endless grinding session, Flytro is paid upfront and lets players get right into the meat of the game.
Upon starting up Flyro, you are immediately greeted by a cinematic featuring the titular Flyro, the hero bird who is out to unfreeze his island home of Birdtown from the evil plot of Moustermind. Though having a cartoon bird star as the protagonist may not have been the most inspired choice, the game’s personality and art style certainly get the job done. It’s cute throughout and the animation has some really nice touches as you watch Flyro spin and turn as he flies.
Once you actually start up a round, you'll immediately notice that Flyro operates under a camera perspective that should be instantly familiar to most people: the top-down view used in classic arcade shoot-em-ups. But instead of blasting alien ships and collecting upgrades, in Flyro you will be dodging floating mines and burning through wooden blockades that stand in your way.
Spread throughout are fireball tokens that can be collected, which add generously to your score. Most importantly though, once you collect enough of these in one run you’ll be given a giant fireball that you can kick around that will literally burn up everything in its way. It’s a pretty unique trick and it’s great fun getting to watch the infrastructure of the game being burned up in your fiery fury. I can’t help but wish the developers did more with the “bird that can catch on fire” theme, but what they do here is at least enough to give the game a memorable feel.
Flyro moves one-to-one with the controls, following your thumb as you drag it across the bottom of the screen. Meanwhile, lifting your thumb off the screen will make him go all flamey to burn through the wooden blockades and barriers. Most games that use this kind of control scheme (Half-Inch Heist [Free], Gridrunner [$0.99 / Free], etc.) suffer from the problem of your thumb being in the way of the things you need to see, but the developers behind Flyro seem to have solved this problem.
By placing the twirling bird hero just far enough above the bottom of the screen for you to fit your thumb underneath him without covering him up, you rarely have the problem of your thumb being too fat. And although the one-to-one movement can still get hairy sometimes due to the slight lag, the one-to-one scheme makes for some heart-pounding dodge sequences once the game starts picking up the pace.
And that, at its core, is really what the game is all about. The further you get, the faster obstacles come at you and the faster you will most likely die. As I stated above, the game doesn’t feature any in-app purchases, which means no grinding. Unfortunately, in the case of Flyro, that also means it lacks a certain amount of progression. Other than just going for the high score, there are achievements—but you won’t find any crazy upgrades or weapons to buy. Instead, every four achievements you accomplish unfreezes more of Birdtown. Unfortunately, this won't bring you back in the same way a store does—in-app purchases or not.
Don’t expect to be playing this one months down the line, but if you’re looking for somewhere to spend a couple of minutes—or even a couple of hours—Flyro is a suitable enough place to spend them. Just don’t count on this to be your next Jetpack Joyride [Free].
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