When Hipster Whale’s Crossy Road first released in November 2014 it did so to a flood of positive user reviews. It’s an endless runner, inspired by the great Frogger of yesteryears, but with many modern improvements to make for a lovely little app. It finally released for Android a few days ago and, after clocking in a few hours, I genuinely think you should try it too.
Developer: Hipster Whale
Publisher: Yodo1 Games (Android)
- iOS 7.0 or higher
- Android 2.3 and up.
Micro-transactions for characters that can be acquired through gameplay.
Crossy Road is a survival-horror story masked by cute characters and a colourful palette. Players have to cross procedurally-generated traffic, train tracks and physics-defying rivers, not for personal top scores or online leaderboards (as most are led to believe), but simply to escape the cruel clutches of a blood-crazed avian predator.
Loiter too long and you’ll be swooped up by a mass of talons and feathers, never to be seen again – the bird probably comes from the same murderous hatchery as Far Cry 4’s eagles. The motorists are equally brutal, casually running down chickens, elderly men and endangered “unihorses” at slow speeds without bothering to stop.
If there was a circle of hell designed specifically to test jaywalkers, Crossy Road would be it.
On a more serious note, the game looks stunning on mobile screens. Flaunting 3D voxels instead of the traditional 2D pixels, the blocky aesthetic and character designs grant Crossy Road an eye-catching presentation. Sure there are other voxel-based mobile games out there, particularly Minecraft and its clone army, but this game is bursting with personality thanks to its cast of characters.
It begins innocently enough with small animals like dogs, cats and frogs, but quickly jumps into crazier territory with characters such as Swift Snail, Flea, The Dark Lord, Ghost, and Dragon. We even get the Hipster Whale mascot, flopping across lanes with a wet splat, and other cameo characters.
They can be purchased individually for SG$1.19 or, better yet, acquired with in-game coins. These coins are randomly scattered throughout the level, adding an additional layer of risk, and can also be acquired by watching video ads, as a free gift after a certain period, or as a bonus for buying characters during a trial.
Rather than being skins, each comes with unique sound effects; sometimes they come with animations and alter the level too. For instance, the Vampire brings nightfall and periodically transforms into a bat. They really help to liven up what is essentially a repetitive game, and some are just downright funny given the circumstances.
If you’re intending to spend I recommend limiting it to just the Piggy Bank, which lets you earn coins faster. Slowly unlocking characters through the Prize Machine is part of the experience and brute-forcing your way with money defeats the point in my opinion.
The gameplay itself is simple and addictive. It’s quick to pick up and the absence of committal mechanics — recharged points, daily quests and such — make for a refreshing change of pace. Not that it’ll help with the whole “just one more try” dilemma we’re all familiar with, but if anything that’s an endorsement of how pointlessly fun the game gets.
Now we all know the real reason the chicken crossed the road — because it had to.
Assessed on a Sony Experia Z, running Android 4.4 and CMOD. Prices accurate at time of print.