Hands-On Preview: Gorilla Gondola

Last November we interviewed Electric Pixel Factory, an up-and-coming trio who had the intrepid idea of setting a giant gorilla on top of a ski gondola. After months of buffing the finish on their shiny iOS debut, they’re just about ready to share Gorilla Gondola with the world: the game’s set for release next Thursday, February 2! We’ve already spent some hands-on time with the final build, and we can tell you this right now: Gorilla Gondola is turning out to be a wild and very beautiful ride.

You’d think a giant ape stomping and teetering on top of your ski gondola would be cause for concern, but it happens to be a mutually beneficial relationship in this wacky title. Set in the gondola’s path are all manner of obstacles. These range from the mundane (your average cave stalactites) to the curious (floating cows, anyone?) to the downright deadly (mines ahoy!). There’s no way the gondola would ever survive on its own, but with Gorilla’s weight constantly added and subtracted by swipe action it can safely weave through treacherous courses. Swiping up and down makes Gorilla jump and stomp; tilting the iDevice shifts his weight so the gondola can bob back and forth on its elastic cable. There will be plenty of close shaves where the player just barely sweeps the gondola out of harm’s way and Gorilla takes a bruising as his own body becomes the only thing separating the gondola from a hard crash. You don’t have to feel sorry for him though — Gorilla is treated to an all-you-can-eat banana buffet in exchange for his workout, so everybody wins!

Gorilla Gondola’s separate controls for vertical and horizontal movement can be likened to Clay’s Reverie, but the feel is quite different. In Clay the player has to have a very logical approach and develop a swift execution plan; Gorilla Gondola is much more organic by comparison, asking the player to rely on intuition as he or she feels out every bounce. Its unique style results from the fact that the gondola is attached to a fixed point and can move only as much as its cable may stretch in any direction. The physics feel clean and tight, which bodes well for this title as it wades into the ocean of casual-friendly games already packing the App Store.

Gorilla Gondola has already drawn an avid following on screenshots alone, but as you might expect, it’s even more impressive in motion. We’ll have plenty of opportunity to wax philosophical on the beauty of its parallax-scrolling backgrounds and how groove-worthy its soundtrack is when we give it a full evaluation next week, but for now let’s skip right to the first gameplay footage freshly released by Electric Pixel Factory:

For the latest on Gorilla Gondola and Electric Pixel Factory’s future projects, be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and here’s the game’s dedicated site for good measure.