Will this uber-casual game soar to new heights, or sink to the murky depths of the AppStore?
Gamevil, well known for their deep RPG’s (Zenonia) and the fully featured baseball games (Baseball Superstars), go back to their ultra casual roots with Skipping Stone, an award winning hit back in the days of simpler handsets.
It would be a mass understatement to state that the AppStore is no stranger to casual games. I would hazard a guess that 80% or more of all games for iOS are casual in nature. But, of those games there are still only a select few that really capture the imagination of not only casual gamers, but the hardcore too. This is primarily down to two things; originality and simplicity.
Skipping Stone has the simplicity part down to a tee. The object of the game couldn’t be simpler, and that’s to keep a skipping stone (or skimming here in the UK) bouncing on the surface of the water for as long as possible. Keeping your stone happily skipping comes down to tapping the screen at the right point in the stone’s descent. A circle shows where the stone comes into contact with the ocean, and a shadow shows where the stone is in relation to it. The trick is to time when the shadow fills the circle and tap at that time. It’s easier than it sounds of course, especially when the skipping gets quicker and quicker as you progress. In fact it also gets harder the more mistakes you make, so getting a good rhythm is key to success.
The stone skips centrally to the screen, while environments such as islands and cities and the like pass by. The environments have no bearing on your success, they are purely there to look pretty. Other creatures as well as your smiley stone do have an impact on your success though. Squids, puffer fish and whales can both help or hinder you, and act like special items. The whale for example, pushes you higher with its water spouts as it surfaces for air, while on the other hand an annoying fish sucks onto your stone, weighing it down and hindering your timing.
If your skill in skipping stones isn’t quite up to scratch then you can purchase upgrades to help you out. These can be purchased either by coins you have earned through getting high scores, or by cheating and purchasing the credit with real cash. The upgrades include a revival stone which will revive you once should you fail; a light stone which falls slower; a boost which makes you go higher; and a lucky stone which increases your chances of a good item.
So, does Skipping Stone have the chops to duke it out with the likes of Tiny Wings and Canabalt? Well, it does have a ridiculously simple one-tap gameplay mechanic, the art style and music is cute and catchy, and there is that ‘one more try’ allure to go for high scores. However, it doesn’t quite offer enough to compete with the best of the best casual games. Mainly this is due to the lack of a truly original twist to the gameplay, something that Tiny Wings has in spades. Perhaps back when it was a hit on older mobile handsets, Skipping Stone had that certain something amongst the other offerings at the time. But, while good, todays casual market demands more if you wish to standout from the crowd. And so, in that regard, it doesn’t quite have enough going for it.
Skipping Stone is out now for $0.99. Get it on the