Cracking skulls all over the sandy tracks.
Polarbit is well known for frantic racing experiences such as Reckless Racing, Reckless Getaway, Wave Blazer and Raging Thunder. Now their kind of old Windows Phone game Cracking Sands has finally made it’s way to iOS. Having played the Windows Phone game ever since trying the Nokia Lumia 900 this Summer I was not that impressed. Seeing it released for iOS made me hope for some major updates to the controls, and core gameplay. Sadly the enhancements made to the game are more about adding features than making the racing experience more pleasant.
Cracking Sands is a top-45-degree-down racer giving it a quite narrow field of vision. This combined with tilt only steering makes the game quite hard to control. Kind of telling when the large exclamation mark in the top left is the largest on-screen control button. And yes it is there to reset the car when you drive into a wall, barrier or getting stuck underneath a bridge. I really wanted to get some proper touch controls to be able to steer, and see the road ahead of me. Now the tilting of the device makes it really hard to keep track of upcoming corners.
The level design is a bit uneven and varies between great high speed shooting stretches like in Wipeout, and strange hard to predict corners where you are just happy to get through without getting stuck. The action aspects get a bit lost due to the need to focus on actually getting around the track. I tend to use nitro booster with all the available power. There are power orbs, and charging pads scattered all over the track. Nitro is a great help when jumping quite cool ravines.
The action controls can either be hidden/floating, or shown/fixed. Personally I had to have them fixed to get the most out of them. The jump button is always visible allowing you to grab coins, and extra air over jumps.
Customizing the rider, and upgrading the vehicle is the most fun aspect of the game to me. This affects the gameplay significantly, and is the main thing motivating me to win another cup.
Additions compared to the Windows Phone version are slightly better graphics, and online multiplayer. Otherwise it has all the same quirky characters, vehicles and energetic music.
Racing games with auto acceleration, and no brakes always feel slightly off. This combined with the viewing angle, and tilt controls make the game less than ideal. I would really like to see the game updated with touch controls, and at least the option to manage the speed. A shame really, as the game both has cool customization and online multiplayer.
Cracking Sands $4.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod