Oversimplifying gameplay often has dire consequences. In the case of One Tap Hero, whose premise revolves entirely around tapping at any point onscreen to make your character perform, it creates a satisfying and inventive dynamic. It may seem far too easy at a glance, but once you’ve put in the time we have, you’ll come out with a much clearer understanding of just how complicated a game that requires just one tap can actually be.
Those types of rules seem only to apply to casual affairs and less-than-stellar games that require little skill and rely on more in-game purchases to truly shine, but interestingly enough the premise works out just fine. Chillingo’s One Tap Hero follows a cheery little protagonist (not too many features to speak of– he’s pudgy and white, how about that?) on his journey to retrieve his kidnapped girlfriend who has inexplicably been transformed into a teddy bear by a wizard. There’s little narrative here to wade through and few frills to get caught up in, leaving the player to their own devices.
You control all platforming elements such as jumping, collecting coins, climbing ladders, and interacting with the environment in varied ways. It’s almost like a simplified rail shooter where your character is propelled automatically and your input is minimal, but that input is ultimately what stands between success and failure. You may tap anywhere at all onscreen to pull off moves, avoid obstacles, and otherwise progress. The freedom to hold the device any way you please is actually a plus, especially for those of us who can’t stand having predetermined real-estate on the screen that we have to manuever clumsy fingers into.
The playful, colorful atmosphere is rife with hazards and different areas to explore, and everything feels quite smooth despite the havoc going on. Apple-headed baddies bombard you at every turn, there are collectable keys strategically located throughout every level, and plenty of things standing in your way between your girlfriend and the next time she’s turned into a stuffed animal.
It’s addictive to say the least, flying through each bite-sized level and aiming to collect the highest rank of three stars. Unlocking treasures and additional costumes gives you a good reason to come back to try and better your previous scores or to advance further, much like other endless runners and platformers.
Teddy Bear Picnic.
While the game is easy enough to master, however, it does suffer from slight marring of its one-touch gimmick. Sometimes the game becomes confused as to which action you need to perform and mixes up the intent to climb a ladder with jumping over an item– typically at the most inopportune of times. It can be absolutely frustrating to deal with, especially if you’re trying an additional run for a better rank, but considering the nature and simplicity of the one-touch control it’s to be expected. Eliminating scenarios that make this frustration possible could be one step toward improving the game as a whole.
Still, we were quite impressed by Chillingo’s latest, and its willingness to try a new approach. With a little bit of polish it could easily replace your favorite platformer. It’s cute, challenging, it’s more than a little addictive, and unless you lack thumbs, it’s easy to get into. We’d love to see more levels added and some additional challenges, and then it’d be a no-brainer to call One Tap Hero a flawless victory.