After a few years of reviewing iOS games at Touch Arcade and elsewhere, I've begun to notice something. You can usually tell how "good" or "bad" a game is by the specificity of your gripes with it. If I'm writing generally about how the controls don't work or the graphics are ugly, the game as a whole probably isn't that great. However, if I'm spending an entire paragraph about how disappointed I am that one level is too hard or too easy, or that there aren't enough pants to buy in the shop, there's a good chance the rest of the game is pretty enjoyable. Why waste time pointing out every little flaw if there are bigger problems to discuss? And conversely, if a game seems to nail everything, what else is there to discuss but the tiny annoyances that don't really amount to much?

I found myself reflecting on this idea as I played Radical Rappelling [Free], the latest game from Halfbrick Studios. The game is incredibly well-made and fun, and I noticed myself really reaching for anything to complain about. For instance, the game relies on Facebook a bit too much. That kinda sucks, right? And there are only two characters to play as, so I guess if you like having a lot of characters you're out of luck. I dunno. It's just a really damn good mobile game.

rappelling3 rappelling2

In Radical Rappelling you play as a mountain climber sliding and bouncing down the side of a cliff, all while avoiding obstacles and performing various stunts. Mechanically, the game is similar to James Gamble’s Spike Dislike [$0.99] series, but turned on its side. As you go down the mountain, you're perpetually hopping against the rocky wall, and you have to time your descent so you don't touch any spikes (which you quickly learn to dislike). Sliding, bouncing, and avoiding stuff is a concept that’s instantly easy to grasp once you try it, and it feels really great once you get going.

The coolest part about the gameplay, however, is the stunts. Most of them come in the form of landing at a certain point at a certain moment, like jumping on three numbered rocks in a row (“Rock hop!”) or bouncing through a hoop (“Ringo!”). Also similar to Spike Dislike, you can’t go backwards (or up, in this case), so if you missed a stunt you just have to push on and wait for the next one. What’s really impressive about the system, though, is how many stunts there are and how different they feel--especially considering the fact that you are basically only controlling when your character moves down. If you perform enough of these stunts you’ll fill up a meter at the top of the screen and trigger a Radical Remix, which boosts you down the mountain at high speeds without taking any damage.

The game is free-to-play, but it definitely falls on the “good” end of that spectrum. You aren’t gated from playing by any timers or pay walls, which means you can fall down cliffs pretty much as long and as often as you like. The single timer that is in the game is for the Randomizer, which is basically a slot machine that gives you three different power-ups that you can use three times each day. You can upgrade these power-ups using coins earned during gameplay, and so far I’ve managed to fully upgrade several of them without too much trouble. Honestly, this is one of those rare games that’s so simple and fun to pick-up-and-play that it doesn’t even feel like grinding.

Try to imagine the perfect mobile game. You might say it should be in portrait mode with a simple, single-tap control method for when you’re waiting in line or sitting on a bus. It would be good in short bursts or longer sessions, with nothing stopping you but your own desire to play. It would be free so you can try it without spending a dime and tell all your friends to download it, too. There would be upgrades and cosmetic items to collect, and missions to complete to give you a sense of progress and keep you interested for weeks or even months. Some form of cloud saving would be there to keep you in sync whether you're on the phone in the break room at work or on the iPad at home on the john. And, above all, it would be just plain fun. Radical Rappelling is that game. It may not actually be “perfect” (what does that even mean, really?), and it probably won't catch on the way Jetpack Joyride [Free] did (which is a shame), but I’ll definitely be rappelling radically for a rather long time to come.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • ZEROFACES

    Nice review. I didn't even know Halfbrick had anything new coming out, so this was a nice surprise for me! Will be downloading immediately.

  • bigrand1

    I dunno. I've heard this is pretty buggy and WAY too hard! I'm not gonna nab this at least for now...l

    • rezn

      I played it a bit when it launched a week or two ago. Seems like a paid review imo. I deleted it after playing a few rounds.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        We do not do paid reviews.

      • rezn

        I know you don't. I was trying to sarcastic.

    • hvianna

      I've been having a blast with this game since it came out! I think it's very original and pretty addictive, once you get the hang of the controls.

      • rezn

        Maybe that was my issue. I'm going to re-download it and give it a second go!

      • Quazonk

        I really recommend you do. I will say I almost played it for 3 minutes and deleted it (I honestly do not know why, it just didn't seem special to me at the time, like I had more important games to play on the backlog or something), and then I decided to play it for a while longer, purely because it's a Halfbrick game...and then I played it through my entire travel time between Seattle to Cleveland...with a 4 hour stop in Chicago. This review does seem a little overly enthusiastic I will say. "Imagine the perfect mobile game...it has ____, and ____, and..."....it was a bit much. But the game is extremely addicting and fun, and the F2P aspects are unintrusive and very optional. Definitely worth another spin.

  • http://javatune.co drunk_vader

    On point. Can't say if it's THE perfect mobile game, but it is definitely close. Some missions are really hard and it'll take a while before you reach level 10 - but the sheer nature of pick up and play is second to none. My favorite new mobile addiction (sorry Fallout Shelter).

  • Swapnil N.

    I loved this game since I downloaded and opened it on my phone. However, I noticed that after playing the game for over 5 minutes (or so), I start feeling dizzy. The walls around me start going away and the floor moves. It becomes hard for me to maintain my balance if I am standing.

    Maybe its just me and I have a condition that I didnt know anything about. But again, this does not have to do anything with this awesome game. Be it the stunts or the voice acting .. "RADICAL!!" (I love everytime the character say it).

    So try it out, it IS a damn good game!

Radical Rappelling Reviewed by Nathan Reinauer on . Rating: 4.5