Maybe it’s the growing excitement for the Oculus Rift, or maybe, ironically, Nintendo’s recent announcement of the 2DS. Either way, I’ve been thinking a lot about 3D gaming lately. And Skytrain Studios’ Cloud Spin (out now, $1.99) makes a pretty good argument for it.
The game is fun enough as it is, but I couldn’t help but think how exhilarating it would be with that extra dimension wrapping itself around your eyeballs. It wouldn’t just be a cherry on top, either; one of my biggest issues with the game would be completely obliterated if Apple ever dipped their toes into the 3D biz. But we’ll get to that.
Cloud Spin is a game about flying. You play as Lucky, a rabbit with a rocket strapped to his back. Your goal is to make your way through each of the 7 levels with as high a score as possible to unlock bronze, silver, and gold medals. The game is essentially on-rails, and you control your character by sliding your finger around the screen, similar to last year’s ARC Squadron. As you zoom through the air you collect coins and stars which add to your score and multiplier (if you can string them together quick enough). On top of that, you also get points for flying close to objects, a nice incentive to try daring maneuvers through arches, rings, and clusters of floating wooden cannonballs.
The problem, as I alluded to before, is that with only two dimensions it can be hard to judge how far away certain things are (particularly at the edges of the screen), leading to a lot of crashes and missed coins. It may seem a bit unfair to say that this is Skytrain’s fault as it’s a problem a lot of these sorts of games can suffer from, but it seems a tiny bit worse here — possibly due to the quick reaction times needed to collect everything and get a decent score. It’s frustrating, especially in the early going, but after a few levels you do begin to get used to it.
One thing I’m still not totally comfortable with, however, is the game’s Free Flight mode. Instead of the jetpack used in the game’s main Tournament mode, here you are given a set of wings with a new control method. Swipes are the name of the game here, and for me, anyway, it barely worked. You are tasked with finding as many red presents as possible while gliding up and down on giant fans, but it can be maddeningly difficult to accurately do anything when the length and speed of swipes are so difficult to judge. Like the issues with depth perception, you can get used to it with practice, but I do wish they had implemented something a bit more like the Tournament mode’s vastly superior sliding controls.
Alright, alright. Enough poo-pooing. Though I have issues with some aspects of Cloud Spin, thankfully the majority of the game is pretty phenomenal.
Case in point: the level and character design. Everything from the breathtaking neon world of the Dragon Run track to the spastic flapping of Lucky’s long ears in the wind contributes to the sense that this is a living, breathing place — and one you won’t want to leave anytime soon. And the gameplay itself, though fairly simple, is always thrilling and fun.
Maybe Cloud Spin isn’t a perfect game. Maybe it’s not even a great game. But it does so many things so right that it’s easy to ignore the few issues one might encounter. It’s a charming little high score chaser and, really, there are far worse ways to spend two bucks on the App Store.
iFanzine verdict: It’s not particularly deep and there are some problems with controls in one of the two game modes, but man, it sure is pretty. And fun. And challenging. This is a world you’ll love to spend time in, even if a small fraction of that time is spent in frustration. There are good times to be had with Lucky the rabbit, and I for one am very excited to see where Skytrain Studios takes us next.