Game Design, Game Reviews

Game Review: Vice-Versa – Everything Flappy Bird Never Was

viceversa_iconPerhaps Flappy Bird’s biggest success was not in the game itself – no matter how popular it was – but in the fact that it has spun off a complete subgenre.

Available on Google PlayVice-Versa is a mobile game built by the French studio Epigama, for Android-powered devices. It draws inspiration from Flappy Bird in terms of gameplay mechanics and the overall feel of the game, but takes the genre to the next level, improving in its every aspect.

Running the game

First thing you’ll notice when you run the game is that its graphics feel somewhat familiar – take away the background and you get a Super Mario-looking game, just like Flappy Bird was. But that’s the feeling which will follow you throughout the game – take away a detail, and you’ll get something you’ve already seen before. Come to think of it – it’s actually quite amazing. It aligns with the general idea that the game builds and improves an already good concept and even though it feels as you’ve played the game a million times before, it still looks brand new.

Listening to music

Being the musical type, I always pay close attention to the sound of the game. Audio is quite an important element to the game, as it sets the entire mood. The game’s creators obviously wanted to go for the “I feel pretty and witty and bright” feel, but instead ended up sounding like an Apple commercial.

Just let the game play its tune and try reading this sentence out loud: “With our new iProduct, you’ll be able to do all the stuff you already do with your other device, only ours is three times the price!” See? Typical Apple music. Luckily, it can be turned off in the menu.

Playing the game

viceversa screen1

I can literally hear the box saying “I should have gone to college”

I don’t know what the game’s creators were smoking when they first came up with the idea of Vice-Versa, but whatever it is – I want some. The game features a character I can only describe as a living, talking three-eyed purple pill (hello, Dirty Dozen), with a perpetual motion jetpack strapped to it’s back.  When the game starts, the jetpack will pull the pill upwards. If you don’t react fast enough, you’ll hit the top of the level and die.

Tapping the screen flips the pill, and the jetpack, upside down, forcing it to go down. Yet again, until it hits the ground. So the point is to tap constantly in order to have your talking purple pill move forward without hitting any of the obstacles. Gravity also comes into play, so even though you flip the pill in the right direction, it will still move in the opposite one for a moment, until the jetpack kicks in. So, similar to Flappy Bird, perfect timing is of the essence – but it is executed in its own, original way.

There are plenty of obstacles in the game, with the developers really being creative with it. From spinning wooden boxes, to bricks appearing from thin air, to boxes with indifferent smiley faces on them, as they’re saying “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.” It’s not as hard as Flappy Bird, but it still can be pretty challenging to finish a level.

Extra value and monetization

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Shop offers just enough to keep you busy

Vice-Versa also features quality power-ups which really open the game up for new possibilities. The power-ups, including shrinking the pill, giving it a shield or slowing things down, can be picked up during play, or can be bought with coins that can also be picked up during play.

Coins can also be earned by watching a video ad or with real cash. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test the shop, as wherever I tapped (the video ad or the real-money purchase), the game didn’t respond.

Even with this obvious bug, the game performed nicely. I could collect enough coins in-game and power-ups which spawned during play were just enough to keep me interested. The game’s levels are fairly lengthy, with certain checkpoints along the way. If you lose a life, you can spend 10 coins to restart from a checkpoint, or you can start from the beginning, for free. A great and simple solution.

Closing comments

Looking at the game as a whole, I can say it is a serious step forward from the genre’s originator, Flappy Bird. It builds on it in every aspect of the game, from the visuals, through gameplay, all the way to its replay value and monetization. It is a lot of fun, it’s engaging and it is difficult enough to keep you interested for extended periods of time.

Unfortunately, it is not without its kinks. The music sets a completely wrong mood to the game, and the obvious bug in the shop is something that really shouldn’t be happening to games of such quality. Still, it was a joy to play.

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