Crossing the jawline
Chin Up from Touch Village is an endless vertical platformer starring a little pale-faced Asian dude, with lines for eyes and a mouth, who speaks in a blatantly stereotypical accent (‘So srippery’), and who’s energy bar is a bottle of Soy Sauce. Im not making this up. Can someone please call the Police of Political Correctness? Depending on your point of view, you could either call this ‘Uncomfortable’, Vaguely Racist’, or if you really wanted to play with fire, ‘Funny’.
Anyway, it’s accurate isn’t it? I mean all Chinese people speak like that in real life don’t they? Don’t they?
They don’t? Oh. I guess I wouldn’t know. I’ve never actually met a Chinese person, I’ve only ever seen them depicted in iOS platformers.
Perhaps Touch Village have come perilously close to crossing some sort of line between humour and offence. I’ll sit on a fence (see what I did there?) and let you decide while I review the game.
The aim is to balance Mr Chin on his steel platform using one finger to tip it on it’s axis or move it side to side as it races into the sky, while all manner of random obstacles fall into his path, and quite often on his head. I think Mr Chin might be some sort of construction worker, but I’m not sure because I’ve only ever seen Chinese people working in Chinese restaurants.
Some of the objects are harmful like anvils, bricks and hacksaws; others are helpful: balloons for extra lives, sushi for energy (naturally) and helmets to shield him from damage. There are also other bizarre items that the developers seemed to throw in for the heck of it, such as severed cat heads and even small children. Yes, you read that right.
Gameplay wise, it’s straightforward (or should that be straight upward?) and fun enough for the first few stages, but there is a rather cruel spike in difficulty a few levels in which makes the obligatory IAP tempting – you can buy additional slots for power ups that you can store for later use when things get really tough. The other tempting option is to go play NOVA 3 instead.
I also conducted a gameplay experiment with Chin Up. After starting the game I did absolutely nothing. (I’d like to assure you I don’t do this with every game I review). His platform continued to race upward and items continue to fall, but I purposely left him where he was and strangely managed to rack up a high score as a result. It was only the first level, so it may have been down the difficulty, but to me this is a very important cultural commentary: The Chinese don’t need my help to each the top.
The best thing about the game is the imaginative stages. You’ll start off in a (surprise surprise) stereotypical oriental setting, but will soon progress to levels set in London, Paris, and even The Vatican. Your Soy Sauce energy will also change depending on where you are, so in London it’s a cup of tea, and in the holiest place on Earth it’ll be a golden chalice. Some of the falling items a also contextual – witness the Vatican’s hand grenades with attached crucifixes.
The graphics are sharp and the those levels are well detailed, but Mr Chin’s one-liners quickly get irritating. There isn’t much variation or depth either, so it’s not going to entertain you for long. I fact, if anything will keep you playing, it’s the promise of more wacky levels lampooning stereotypical elements of other cultures/ countries rather than the gameplay.
Which earns it a decent score. Games with a sense of humour always get some sort of thumbs up form me. Plus I’ve learned so much about the Chinese playing Chin Up that I can’t wait to go share it with people. After all, why would Touch Village feature it if it wasn’t true?
Chin Up Free Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod