Making an example of the endless runner genre
Price: Free (ad-removal $1.99 / £1.49)
Developer: Appsolute Games
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Makibot Evolve is an Endless runner, but it’s far from your everyday title. It’s not a Swing Copters or a Crossy Road, or indeed a Shootey Skies. Despite those games employing similar best-score-chasing aesthetics, Makibot has received far less attention.
Perhaps, this is because everything else is far less familiar. The graphics are reserved, and more realistic in its color-scheme, opting against the high-contrast coloring to provide an experience that really focuses on the gameplay. Furthermore, this is not designed as a quick time killer, or a pick-up-and-play title – it absolutely can function that way, but that would be overlooking its richness and attention to design, soundscape, characters, and gameplay.
To play the game, users must bounce their little Makibot (of which there are plenty to unlock) endlessly upwards, collecting coins along the way. To do this, you tap the right of the screen to bounce right, and the left of the screen to bounce left onto various platforms, ledges and other objects. You keep going until you either hit a bed of spikes that are littered around, or you fall to the bottom of the screen. The coin-collecting is a great way of keeping score, rather than a point on each successful bounce or platform ascension. The fluidity of coin-counting is more exciting because occasionally you’ll find a red gem and boost the count by 20, or a blue one and rise by 50. Or you’ll find a power-up and easily collect a bundle all at once, pushing your game to a potential best score rather than a regular mediocre attempt.
This does bring us to one element of the gameplay that can be a source of frustration. Its unpredictability. When you first play you might wonder whether the levels are procedurally generated. The answer is no – there’s just loads of pre-designed segments, around 100 in fact. These will randomly, and seamlessly connect to create the endless levels that only finish when you crash and burn, or hit a spike. The appearance of certain power-ups and gems is random, so despite the fact you had a run that was skillfully brilliant, a bad run might raise a higher score due to the luck of the dice. Judging by App Store reviews this kind of thing has frustrated some, but for those of us that aren’t as adept at honing gameplay skills as others, it gives us a chance to hit a score to be proud of.
Makibot Evolve hasn’t made much of an impact on the App Store, which is a shame, because it really is a more ambitious take on the endless runner genre than the big money-makers. However, it does curiously position itself as a puzzle game as well, which isn’t really accurate. Puzzles require thought, in Makibot, the characters relentless bouncing means that you have two goals – collect coins, and don’t fall. Solving puzzles doesn’t really enter into the equation. Though there are some instances where you have to hit a button or a lever, we’d hardly describe these as problematic enough to be considered a ‘puzzle’.
The app is free and ad-supported, though there’s an option to turn off ads for $1.99 (£1.49). This largely works and removes ads between plays, but starting the app up still displays a full page ad, as does going back to the menu. Ad-free should mean entirely free of ads. A glitch, perhaps? Either way, Makibot is a huge amount of fun, and gives you some great gameplay, and beautiful visuals in a neat little package. Highly recommended.
— TapSmart (@TapSmart) December 2, 2015