Chillingo release a roller-coaster inspired platformer into the crowded endless running genre. Only gamers over 5′ 10″ can play!
Canabalt was the first game to bring the endless runner genre to gamers attentions. Since then it’s been Tiny Wings and the unstoppable Jet Pack Joyride that has put it firmly on the map alongside other AppStore successes – such as physics puzzlers and word games.
I’m all for people jumping onto bandwagons – or in this case roller-coasters – as long as in doing so they bring something fresh, or a new twist to the genre.
Madcoaster certainly gives it a good try, by offering up a unique setting for your endless antics. I’ll give the developers the benefit of the doubt in coming up with the idea themselves, but to me it looks to borrow heavily from Jet Pack Joyride, with a pinch of Tiny Wings thrown in for good measure.
You control a speeding roller coaster, complete with screaming passengers. It’s your job to keep it on the track for as long as you can, and along the way pick up coins for points. Running down the local fauna will give you extra points; these include Gorillas, Penguins, Monkeys and a range of Birds. Quite why taking these poor, innocent animals lives is a large part of the game I’ll never know. But, it is kinda satisfying to reduce a rare bird to just a plume of feathers.
Madcoaster features by far the worst roller coaster you would ever ride. It’s all broken up! This is the challenge of course, and to counter that your train has the power to jump. Like Tiny Wings you can control the height and arc of the jump by the length of time you hold your finger on the touchscreen. Timed right and long jumps will allow you to collect arching coins, while shorter jumps are needed as your train speeds up.
The game world is broken up into stages of 1000 meters. Each of these are visually themed and are selected at random as you progress. The usual suspects are here; jungle, snow, egypt and halloween themed lands. You can also unlock more themes by breaking the 10,000 meter barrier, or stumping up $0.99 for IAP.
To spice things up, stages feature multi-tiered levels of track, to which you can jump to with a tap, or drop down to another level with a downward swipe. Choosing the right path will reward you with more coins, power ups and bonus points; such as the loop-the-loop sections of track.
To break with ‘endless’ tradition, Madcoaster gives you more than one life. So after falling off track you can continue from where you died, without starting from the beginning. You have three lives initially, and can pick up bonus hearts along the way – primarily at the end of a stage.
Various powerups can be collected on your travel, and it’s here – along with the coins – that the game reminds me of Jet Pack Joyride the most. These include magnets that suck up all coins around you, and even a jet pack that lets you float above the track for a limited time.
Essentially, there are two ways to play Madcoaster; for points, or for distance. Both feature their own leaderboards in which to brag your results. To be good at one though, you’ll want to ignore the other. If you want to do well in distance for example, then I advise ignoring the coins and powerups, and instead fixing your gaze on your train and checking where the track is in your peripherals.
Doing this is harder than it sounds, however. While the game is presented well with a bright and cheery cartoon look and feel, the detail on show does have a downside. It moves along so fast that after a while it does strain the eyes. It’s the same problem with most games in this genre though, and all I’ll say is that less can indeed be more!
Overall, Madcoaster is a fun arcade romp, and like it’s competitors is good to dip in and out of to see if you can beat your score. Despite having new objectives to keep things interesting on multiple play-throughs – such as kill 3 gorillas and pass through 3 loops – it’s really not the kind of game that you can sit through for more than 10-20 minutes at once.
In game terms then, Madcoaster is like junk food. But then again, sometimes a quick sugary snack is just what you need!
Madcoaster is out now for $0.99 as a universal app. Get it on the