Sometimes the simplest of games can become amazingly addictive, like Doodle Jump and PathPix. Other times they can wear out their welcome faster than your buddy’s yippy dog. Alpine Crawler World manages to find a happy medium between the two extremes. Its simple gameplay eases you into a euphoric state, and then a series of seemingly unavoidable instant deaths yanks you back to sad, boring reality.
The goal of Alpine Crawler World is to drive a vehicle over uneven terrain to get from point A to point B. A time limit and a health bar are in place to send you back to start if you dilly dally or crash. The catch (and the reason the game is often more frustrating than enjoyable) is that the only meaningful thing you have control over is how fast you’re going.
There’s some rocky terrain in the boonies.
So maybe you’re in a pick-up truck and you’re asked to traverse some bumpy hills and valleys. If you crest a hilltop too quickly, your truck will launch into the air. Once airborn, you have no control over the vehicle, so if the truck tilts and is about to dive grill-first into the ground, there’s nothing you can do about it. So you die, and the next time you approach the hill you take it slower. This leaves you alive on the other side, but now the timer will nip at your heels, ending your run when it peters out. The idea is to find the perfect balance between acceleration and braking to reach the goal with time to spare.
Unfortunately, the controls don’t feel quite up to the task. Sure, they cover the things you’d realistically be able to adjust while driving, but because the physics of the game aren’t quite right, they’re just not enough. Sometimes your vehicle acts rubbery, so it will bend and bounce, taking only slight damage from landing a big jump. Other times your energy bar will zip to zero for no apparent reason. And, unlike in similar games like Moto X Mayhem, you can’t control the angle of your vehicle’s tilt in mid-air, so you’re left feeling defenseless as it wobbles toward the ground. All you can do is watch it fall and hope for the best.
That said, Alpine Crawler World isn’t a total wreck. It has a variety of vehicles that feel suitably different from one another, a challenge mode and a free ride mode that mix up the gameplay, and OpenFeint integration for achievements and leaderboards. The problem is that the core gameplay isn’t refined enough to sustain a player’s interest through all that content. So pick up this game up if speeding and slowing appeal to you, but it’s likely that you’ll want to motor on to something a little more polished before long.