Avalanche Game Hands-On Preview

Kepa’s revealed the final name of the game to us: QuickHook. Avalanche Game, it was nice working with you, but you’re now relegated to the same trivial spot in history shared by Blue Harvest, the working title of Return of the Jedi.

Today we sat down for a GDC Eve chat with Kepa Auwae, the developer behind standout retro platformer Hook Champ. A month and a half away from releasing their follow-up Avalanche Game (tentative title), Kepa walked us through some of the more surprising new features.

“It’s a game about stealing food, and hats,” Kepa told us with a straight face. The stealing food aspect of the game is required to unlock secrets in the sprawling, randomly generated Avalanche Mode, which plays like a mash-up of Hook Champ and Canabalt.

This part of the game is an endless level, with randomly-selected landscape types that scroll by as you swing away from a quickly advancing avalanche. The controls in Avalanche Game felt a bit looser to us than Hook Champ, with Kepa telling us that the goal was to be more accessible without sacrificing any of the advanced swinging techniques.

While you swing, you can boost upwards at a diagonal angle, a combination of the vertical and horizontal boost types in Hook Champ. This will let you get into hard-to-reach areas, and steal some food while you’re up there.

You’ll be able to duck into hidden alcoves and nab fish from hungry bears, or swing past a gang of demons in a fiery cavern snacking on some ice cream. When you snag their food, you’ll unlock alternative “Race Mode” levels that are single stages, like in Hook Champ. These secret snacks are also tied to your OpenFeint achievements.

Speaking of OpenFeint, Avalanche Game will use push notifications and friend challenges in an interesting new way. Like in Hook Champ, you can challenge a friend to beat your score on a particular stage. But unlike in Hook Champ, if they beat you, the game continues.

You’ll have three attempts to beat your opponent’s new high score before they’re declared the winner, and if you do beat their high score, the challenge ping-pongs back to them. Those three retries are over the course of the entire string of challenges, so you can screw up twice on one challenge and have only one more attempt left for any in the future.

Other fun details we were privy to include a first-person shopkeeper view, griping customers who will complain about you stealing their food, and of course, lots of hats to buy. You’ll even get a bonus hat if you buy the game at its launch price of $1.99, before it goes up to $2.99. There are many more surprises still in store for Avalanche Game, so we can’t wait to play it when it hits the App Store next month.