iPhone App Video Review: HighFlyer DeathDefyer

by Andrew Koziara

HighFlyer DeathDefyer is an interesting new title from Game Mechanic Studios. It’s basically a game based entirely around precision skydiving. The art style is nice, but the animation can be choppy, and the game has some technical issues holding it down.

The basic premise is that, in the future, there’s this whole event involving the Moon that shatters the Earth. The human race lives on by colonizing floating islands in the sky, getting around with all sorts of aircraft while avoiding the massive dragon like monsters that have become the earth’s inhabitants.

The first part of the game is a rather lengthy tutorial. I mistook it as the main game at first. You move from jetpack test to jetpack test, learning different maneuvers and strategies. If you accidentally skip to a new test, I hope you remember which one you left off on, because they don’t track which ones you’ve completed at all. After finishing these levels, you move on to the main story levels. These are much more exploratory, and involve collectible treasures, hidden aliens to rescue, and all sorts of hazards and enemies to avoid. Your basic goal of each level is to reach the lowest landing platform, and you can replay levels over and over while looking for collectibles.

I love the concept of this game. It reminds me of one of my favorite indie gems on PC, entitled AaAaaAaAAA!!! -- A Reckless Disregard for Gravity. The world that’s been created is interesting, and I’d love to really get into the game, but the controls are pretty much broken. The default fixed-position control stick is extremely unresponsive, as are most buttons in the game. It’s just irritating when you can’t even pause the game because the game won’t register your button presses. In the same vein of issues, font sizes and buttons are often too small and needlessly cramped together, which results in you hitting the wrong button way too often. I eventually realized you can switch to an “anywhere joypad,” which I recommend everyone does. Tilt controls were surprisingly effective, but even on maximum sensitivity I had to twist the screen like crazy, and it actually made me dizzy.

The art style is nice and simple, but the animation can be very choppy. This game only works on iPhone 4 architecture or above, and even on my iPhone 4, I encountered sputtering and slow down several times. The game is iOS universal, has Game Center achievements, and a pretty sizeable chunk of content.

Unfortunately, all of that comes at a five dollar price tag, which seems like more than the game is really worth. I expect a game at that price level to be functional and have a pretty decent amount of polish. If you can get over the controls, you might find a really enjoyable game here. And while I really want this game to live up to its potential, as it stands now I’m going to have to recommend people avoid it; at least until they can update it and fix these issues.

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