Friday, August 6, 2010
Four Quarter Friday - AvaGlide
Before my 360 decided to hotbox itself to death, I was able to try out a game by the name of AvaGlide (no lube jokes, please). Normally I'm weary of any avatar games on the indie marketplace simply because...well, they usually suck. However, the demo gave me just enough of a taste of the game that I felt compelled to plunk down my 80 MSP and give the full version a whirl. And, despite a few shortcomings, AvaGlide turned out to be the best avatar game yet this year.
AvaGlide feels like Haiku Interactive's version of the hang gliding levels from everyone's favorite Nintendo aviation series, Pilotwings, but without the landing. That seems like it's a little too specific and narrow, and to be honest that common comparison doesn't do the game complete justice. In AvaGlide you use the left analog stick to fly your glider around and do specific things depending on what mode you pick. Ring Rush has you flying through rings and collecting stars for extra time and points to get to the end of the course, Delivery Dash involves dropping crates onto targets within a time limit, and Star Smash just has you flying around trying to hit as many rings as possible without putting your glider into the ground or on the side of a cliff.
The presentation in AvaGlide has a very inviting Wii Sports feel to it. The visuals are simple yet clear and defined, and you won't have a problem seeing what's coming up or knowing what it is. There aren't any frame rate issues, and the only problem I had was that the sense of speed seemed a little slow, and that's getting more into personal issues than actual problems. The music adds to the relaxed feel of the game, and all together AvaGlide does come off like a lost Wii Sports title.
Controlling your hang glider is pretty simple. Up on the analog dives, down lifts, and left and right lean their appropriate ways. Your right analog comes in handy during the Delivery mode, allowing you to look down and get a better shot at the target below. At first I didn't think the glider moved or turned quick enough, but then I thought to myself, "Hey speed freak. This is a glider, not a jet," and everything felt normal and responsive. Sometimes I think I just need to do some yoga or something and calm down.
Each mode has three different courses in addition to the game's free flight mode that allows you to just fly around without worry of points or a time limit. In addition to having a large amount of area to fly in, you'll quickly learn that the Ring Rush mode gets difficult and requires some practice. I went in thinking I'd just rush through each course and instead found myself smacking against the side of a cliff trying to get to a checkpoint ring. This, of course, means there's a lot of frustrating fun in store for me once I get my 360 back. Less frustrating but I'd say a lot more fun is the Delivery Dash mode. You feel a lot less stress doing this mode than you do the others with an ample supply of thermal lifts to keep you in the air and an idea casual enough for anyone to do yet deep and competitive enough to last for hours on end. Star Smash didn't feel quite as fun as the other two modes, but there's more to do in this one mode than in most other entire avatar games out so there you go. Each mode and area has its own online leaderboard and target times/scores, adding to the already large amount of replayability. The multiplayer is also a nice touch, but the problem with it is that it's hot seat (you take turns) and not split-screen. This wouldn't be quite as much of an issue if the average turn wasn't 3 minutes. Still, it's good to have around and fills out an already decent package.
If you just go through each area in each mode once, you would be done within half an hour. But that's like saying "go through each track on Mario Kart once and you'll be done within a couple hours" when you know you'll be back to it for weeks or even months to come. Between the multiplayer and the leaderboards, there's a lot to keep you playing. Most important, however, is that the game is fun from the moment you pick it up until the minute your controller runs out of batteries and you're forced to stop, and that's the definition of a game that's worth your time and purchase.
AvaGlide from Haiku Interactive is available on XBox Live for 80 MSP. Played each mode and area, tried multiplayer for a while, and then proceeded to just play a lot of Delivery Dash. I really miss Super Monkey Ball 2's Monkey Target 2.