Tiny Wings was one of 2011's best mobile games: a serene, soothing and charming experience that relied on only a single finger to navigate its procedurally-generated worlds.
However, a new bird has decided to try and unseat Tiny Wings from its lofty perch... and it's none other than Woody Woodpecker himself.
The mechanics may be tried and true, but by adding a competitive edge and classic characters, the chuckling chirper's licensed app ends up feeling like a completely new game. In a good way.
For reasons best known to Chillingo, Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy and pals have decided to take up cross-country racing. Using a single finger to increase momentum, you'll hare across undulating landscapes and use the hillsides as ramps to gain speed and airtime. It's much the same as Tiny Wings in that regard, but Woody Woodpecker soon rings the changes.
Rather than racing against the inexorable setting sun, you're instead pitted against the other five characters in a race to the finish line. Each racer packs a different weapon (such as slippery oil, perfume bombs or a bizarre fish explosion), different handling characteristics and a speed boost, meaning that you'll need to take a little time learning which of the cast caters to your particular play style.
Races soon descend into tense and enjoyable furballs as the feathers fly and each character plays as dirty as possible in order to secure the top three positions. The thirty levels, set in three different environs, also feature track-specific hazards such as sand traps, electrocuting storm clouds and even low ceilings that add a new and exciting dimension to the gameplay.
It's fun, pure and simple... and manages to distance itself far enough from Tiny Wings' core gameplay to render a direct comparison meaningless.
There aren't quite as many stages as I'd have liked (you'll blow through them in a single play session if you don't limit yourself to the morning commute), but the real meat of the package is to be found in multiplayer. Playing against random opponents via Wi-Fi is a cinch thanks to the slick netcode, and a consistently exciting thrill.
But without the fun (and burning humiliation) of local multiplayer to fall back on - which is a glaring omission considering that arcade racers are best enjoyed with a few friends - Woody Woodpecker is undeniably light on content. An endless mode a la Tiny Wings or at least another 10-level world would have increased value exponentially. For 69p, though, it's hard to complain about being short-changed.
Visually, Woody Woodpecker is solid and charming, evoking the art style of the cartoons with plenty of colour and simple, uncluttered aesthetics. Unfortunately the same can't be said of the sound design, since the same tiny collection of (notably high-resolution) voice samples are constantly repeated and the music, though catchy, soon starts to grate.
- Fun and accessible gameplay
- Solid multiplayer
- Great fun
- Not enough levels
- No local multiplayer
- Simplistic sound design
Summary: Woody Woodpecker is an enjoyable slice of arcade action, and a blast both in singleplayer and online. Questionable value and suspect sound design leave room for improvement, but for 69p, it's hard not to recommend.
Compatibility: Universal: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad.Requires iOS 4.1 or later.
Price: £0.69 - App Store