Sometimes, you'll come across a game that has no business on a mobile device, utilizing a shoe-horned control scheme that was seemingly crammed into somewhere it didn't belong. Even still, it's not hard to find a game that truly works best on the platform, with touch controls that are executed quite flawlessly -- the iOS-exclusive Sky Tourist included.
But as we all know, good controls don't make an entire game.
Sky Tourist (iPad [reviewed on an iPad Mini], iPhone [tested on an iPhone 5])
Developer: Three Legged Egg
Publisher: Three Legged Egg
Released: July 15, 2013
MSRP: $0.99 (Universal)
The concept of Sky Tourist is a simple one -- guide the protagonist Petey Pendant upwards to each level's goal, traversing a number of puzzles and twitch challenges. Then do that 78 more times until you're done. In each stage, you'll have three objectives (competing for a standard mobile "three star" rating system): completing a level, completing it without losing a life, and finishing it while gathering every cube.
All you have to do is touch the left or right rocket to string your character upwards or downwards via a tether system -- no other complications involved. This very simple control scheme, for the most part, actually works, even on a small iPhone screen.
Visually, the game is stunning on both an iPhone and an iPad, as the unique art style radiates charm. Smooth vibrant colors dominate Sky Tourist's landscapes, and the much appreciated "snapshot" feature allows you to occasionally take pictures of some of the better-looking moments.
My main issue with Sky Tourist is that most of the enjoyable levels occur very early into the game, and that each world is about twice as large as it should have been. Rather than offer a smaller snippet of fun and interesting concepts in rapid succession, Sky Tourist is content with delivering samey levels over a lengthy period of time.
As such, the game's faults feel a bit more glaring when you're constantly attempting to best stages that feel exactly the same. Sky Tourist tries to throw new concepts at you, such as the requirement to grab a "key" hidden in the level before you're allowed to exit it, but these ideas feel more like a hindrance than a fun addition in practice.
You'll feel a strong sense of frustration when you constantly snap your line, getting stuck in overly tight-knit spaces, which is a further testament to the game's askew level design. I also came across a few glitches that blocked off the exit entirely (these were earlier stages that didn't make use of the exit key).
If you can deal with the game's frustrations, there's tons of content available at your fingertips over three worlds, including bonus stages that will really test your skills. There's also a number of souvenirs to collect, hidden objects, and of course, a 100% cube completion rate to strive for.
In my experience with Sky Tourist, I had to put it down a number of times, because I just wasn't compelled to keep going. Every so often the game works, and you're having a ton of fun, and then all of a sudden a glaring design issue springs up. Although it has a high degree of visual charm and the controls actually work, there's something about the design of the stages that feels off and underwhelming.
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