Saltsman claims that the advantage of a "teaser game" is the ability to not have to go all in on the tie-in, and thus a little more creative freedom is involved. He's certainly spot on with that observation, as the amount of times "disappointing" and "movie tie-in" have been used in the same sentence cannot be calculated by the Gods themselves.
Saltsman isn't going at it alone however, has he has the backing of author Suzanne Collins, Mark Johns, Kevin Coulton, Paul Veer, and Daniel Baranowsky. Can you say "mega-team"?
Girl on Fire features Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence in the film), the star of the Hunger Games trilogy, and archer extraordinaire. This teaser takes place right before the film, and shows off a little bit of Katniss' hunting skills and physical prowess as she is illegally hunting for food for her family, who live in District 12 -- a slum-like mining community.
For those who aren't in the know (you will be come tomorrow, when everyone is talking about it), Hunger Games takes place in a dystopian society, where the Government (seated at the Capitol) runs a competition called "The Hunger Games", which pits children aged 12-18 against each other in mortal combat for wealth and glory (kind of like Battle Royale, but more fleshed out and spanning three novels).
So what in the world is the actual game like? Well, in the same vein of Canabalt, it's also a "runner" game, although I wouldn't put it in the "endless" category, as there is a clear finale. As a result, the game's longevity suffers a hit, as part of the fun of Canabalt was constantly playing it and experiencing new sights and sounds -- Girl on Fire is pretty much the same every time.
Despite the repetition, the game is still really enjoyable (especially since it's free!). Unlike most runner titles, there are two planes to switch between, which can be done with a swipe of your finger. Katniss will have to strike down tracker jackers with her bow, which can be initialized by tapping the screen in the proper direction. As you can clearly see, the controls are extremely simple, and lend themselves well the touch interface.
As Katniss progresses through the forest, and eventually back to her home, enemies get tougher, and start to shoot projectiles and don shields that protect them from her arrows. When enemies start to shoot at you, the game gets much more interesting, as the player has to strike a balance between switching planes and shooting down the trackers, creating a decent puzzle-like conundrum that isn't usually found in runner games.
The score, while not as catchy as Canabalt's music, is still impressive, and adds to the atmosphere of the game in a big way. It also fits the decidedly 16-bit visuals, which Saltsman succeeded in capturing quite well.
So what are you waiting for? Hunger Games: Girl on Fire is free, and is out on iOS today -- the film is out tomorrow.
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