Chillingo has been pretty quiet lately but they are back in action, publishing PlayFlame's physics simulation style game, Zombie High Dive [Free]. PlayFlame's debut game mixes the launch trajectory component of Angry Birds [$0.99] and the wind resistance air rotation physics of Bouncy! Trampoline [Free]. We can't draw too much from the history of the developer, but the publisher is one of the most prolific in the business. For better or worse, the game brings what you would expect from EA owned Chillingo: Full facebook integration, highly stylized art, music and sound work, with hopefully some intriguing gameplay.

The character you play is a zombie with an unexplained desire to dive competitively. Dives are conducted in either training with an instructor or competing in leagues that accept you once you reach various goals. Every time you go to a dive location, you are charged a ticket, one of the game's three currencies. You perform a number of dives, usually to reach a point value. After the introductory diving tutorial, you approach a seedy looking zombie that offers his services as your agent. The game uses him to deliver most of the bad news about this game. Yes, there is a timer to get more tickets. Yes, you are going to get pressured to link up your facebook. Yes, you will be redirected to the currency store if you run out of tickets. Hell, even if you don't run out of tickets. It's kind of a smart idea to use an in-game personality to be the bad guy. I mean, it would be even better to not have to have him at all, but at least now we don't have to break immersion to get a limited time offer from the item shop.

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Your agent arranges for your participation in various leagues and lines up instructors to train you. Well... ostensibly that's what trainers are supposed to do. In practice, trainers are a nice big wall that you have to overcome in order to continue playing. You have to successfully land 8 different dives of increasing height and complexity. If you fail more than 3 dives in your climb to the top, you must either start paying out the game's 2nd type of currency, brain biscuits, to bribe the judges or you have to start over from the first dive and burn another ticket. Why do you need a ticket to train with an instructor your agent lined up for you? I still haven't figured that out.

Once you have access to league competitions, you will be pitted 1v1 against a cast of npc zombies in each match. You do not, however, actually get to see the dives your opponents complete. League matches differ from training only in that training is a little more forgiving by allowing 3 missed dives before failure. Once you tap past the banter screen in which you see a few lines of conversation text, you are only given a score total you must surpass. The most original banter you will see in the game is a reference to a body part and then a zombie admitting that they lost or misplaced that body part. There are also some typos that managed to pass a spell check.

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The diving itself feels pretty solid. You use the Angry Birds style pull back and launch mechanic to initiate your dive. Once airborne, putting your finger on the screen increases spin speed, while letting off decreases spin speed. Each dive is dictated to you in how many spins you need to do and whether you should land feet or head first into the water. You are scored based on how straight you landed and if you did the required number of flips. The game offers enough complexity that you need to concentrate on how high up you are and how fast the wind is moving. One problem I have is that very rarely I will stick a great dive and not get credit for a good dive. Dives are scored in such a way that every single score counts. There are no averages or dropping the lowest and highest scores like Olympic dive scoring. While this seems like a minor point, it is important to keep in mind that a failed dive means that you will lose a match unless you pay for another dive or fail the match and spend another ticket on the match. A single botched dive in a league match means you will be spending currency.

Given the hard push to the currency store, Zombie High Dive is surprisingly light on what it offers a player looking to spend currency. I haven't mentioned the third currency of the game, brain cakes, because all they are used for is to buy more tickets. The total sum of what you can purchase is more diving, of one flavor or another. After almost every match you complete you are greeted with either a game ad or your agent asking you to buy something from the store. There are no indicators that tell you purchases will remove ads, and the 'free currency for watching more ads' feature is not yet working. You can buy extra dives once you are in a competition, and you can buy extra tickets when you are waiting for more to replenish over time. Bouncy! Trampoline for example offers many purchases that upgrade your spinning and jumping ability, change appearances, or do both. A big part of meeting the increasing difficulty in games like this is making intelligent upgrade purchases that allow you not only greater control, but the ability to perform greater feats of death defying stunts. The only cosmetic upgrade available in Zombie High Dive is a diving tower skin that becomes available by doing the facebook only competition.

You might have noticed that the time I spend in this review on the actual gameplay of this game is pretty limited. After reading our forum thread I realized that the gameplay isn't the focal point for me. I find the gameplay enjoyable, if a little shallow and unforgiving, but there are a lot of barriers to actually get to the meat of this app. You are only given 4 tickets to start out with, with a fifth ticket that can be regained only by using brain cakes to purchase tickets. Each ticket takes 20 minutes to replenish. Like I said before, you must burn currency to buy additional dives even while you are within a match. There is no point at which you can even practice without burning currency. Ultimately it is these limitations which define the game for me. Zombie High Dive holds the reins too tightly for me to sit back and enjoy the simple physics game this could have been.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • RamazUltra

    Not arcades enough. 1/5! Shameful display!

    • mattreeder

      Fancy meeting you here.

    • Yukari

      Go to a different review website if you don't like it, instead of chucking a tantrum in every thread.

      • RamazUltra

        Lol I can't believe people are so ignorant and up right that you can't see that I'm poking fun at my self for being so quick to judge in the first thread.

  • Diaboliq

    This game is a shame... I would have paid a buck to play the game without IAP and had fun, but now im just deleting it and they arent getting my money... The game is NOT worth any more then a dollar. With IAP its worth far less IMO

  • Donny K76

    This game sucks.

  • http://www.nafna.com/ nadav bar kama

    every body just please chill off ... and please a bit of respect, 1. im sure the guys at playflame worked hard to build this game! 2. any game that includes decapitating zombies should get at least 3 stars ...

    • black _developer

      it's pronounced "Chill Out" my dude

  • http://ScottSoapbox.com/ Scott Soapbox

    So do any games receive 1 star on this site?

    I ask that as a serious question, because 2 is the lowest I've seen in my time here.

    • JudahJames

      You might just be onto something here: The Angry IOS Game Nerd! Come on Touch Arcade get on that. :)

    • Andrew Fretz

      Thanks for the question Scott! I can't speak for any of the other reviewers, but a 1 star review is probably pretty rare just because most games have some sort of evidence of effort of some sort. I reserve the mighty 1 star for a game that shows no redeeming quality whatsoever in any aspect whether it's gameplay, aesthetic, story, humor or accessibility. Sorry if that doesn't give enough of an answer for you.

      • http://ScottSoapbox.com/ Scott Soapbox

        OK that's what I needed to know. Now I can better assess what 2.5 stars means (pretty bad vs average).

  • nreyes

    This game has great graphics and fun gameplay. My main complaint would be that they have pushed the "freemium" concept way too much. It is crippled by endless Ads that interrupt the gameplay. It would be far better retailing for 99c with optional upgrades rather than pay for everything or be blasted by commercials left right and centre. The other thing is that the diving is relatively "one dimensional" in its appeal, so it would be fun if you could rack up points for creative crashing on your way down, rather than compete to dive in the prescribed manner all the time.

    • Donny K76

      I own over 90% of Chillingo published games. I used to be a huge fan. Freemium and premium does not make a difference to me personally, while it does to the majority. I highly respect that. My issue is that the gameplay is very inconsistent and repetitive. I was looking forward to Zombie Dive for awhile. I wanted to like this game so badly. I really did, but I was let down, beautiful graphics aside.

Zombie High Dive Reviewed by Andrew Fretz on . Rating: 2