The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire game will likely be seen by two very distinct audiences, one that is obsessed with the series, and another that knows it only as a huge media curiosity. Whether you find it enjoyable won’t necessarily depend on which of the two camps you fall in, however.
As a game, Hunger Games: Girl on Fire just isn’t that well made. At first, it looks like an endless runner-style game, where the object is to survive as long as possible while the mechanical wasp “tracker jackers” attempt to put an end to your character’s life by running into you and shooting stinging, poison lasers.
But instead of endlessly running, Girl on Fire lets players control the series’ protagonist, Katniss, so you’ll be endlessly bow-and-arrowing the feisty wasps on a two-level forest while the game does the running for you.
But the game runs into trouble almost immediately. To start, Girl on Fire asks players to swipe up or down to get to the high and low ground each stage possesses. That becomes a bit more convoluted when you also have to tap the screen to shoot the tracker jackers. Sometimes you’ll jump when you want to shoot, and sometimes you’ll shoot when you want to jump. An on-screen button actually made for jumping would’ve been incredibly helpful.
The shooting isn’t perfect, either. At first, I assumed the collision detection was just a little sloppy when I sent numerous arrows in the direction of the wasps only to frequently miss, leading to an early death over and over. After a bit of trial and error it became clear you actually had to tap directly on the wasps to “hit” them. It seems like an odd choice for such a fast-paced game, especially given you also have to swipe constantly to move around the level.
And it turns out the game isn’t an endless runner, it actually has two levels and a real ending. Which makes it feel like two pieces of an incomplete game. If Hunger Games is an endless runner, it’s missing a lot of the great features of the genre, like on-screen flags to show you your progress when you reach a new furthest point, or even a local scoreboard so you can compare your own best scores against whoever uses your iPhone.
But if it’s not an endless runner, then it’s a one-note adventure/shooting game that doesn’t bother with a distinct feature over the course of its very short length. Either way, it isn’t exactly satisfying.
Fans of the series won’t get any special Easter eggs about the books or the movie, as the app keeps the story elements fairly light. And whether you’re a fan or not, the gameplay itself just isn’t up to snuff. As a free cash-grab to make people more aware of the film, I absolutely get it, I just wish it were a lot better.