Many times we’ve contemplated what homeless folks can do to make their lives better. Then it occurred to us: extreme shopping cart racing. We could never quite bring ourselves to try this dangerous activity ourselves, but the developers of Shopping Cart Hero have given the world a chance to simulate this experience. Despite the game’s simplicity, we had trouble putting it down.
Simple gameplay generally works well on the iPhone’s touch screen, and Shopping Cart Hero is no exception. You start off by having the character run down a hill, jump into the cart as close to the indicated sign as possible, and fly off the ramp at the end. Once in the air, the goal is to keep your cart level with the ground by tilting the device so that you can come to a smooth landing. All the controls work fluidly, which is rare for ports of Flash games.
What makes Shopping Cart Hero so much fun are the crazy tricks you can pull off. After purchasing them from the shop with your hard-earned dollars, you can perform backflips, handstands, and even pyramids in the air with a combination of swiping and tapping the screen. Our personal favorite is the superman, were you hold onto the airborne cart’s handle for dear life. The catch is that if you hit the ground in the middle of a trick, you crash and crack your head open.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a’¦ dude with a rocket-strapped shopping cart?
Other tricks, such as wheelies and skidding, can be performed on the ground. These require you to tilt the phone to maintain your balance. A useful maneuver that can be used with the baseball bat is pole vaulting, giving you an extra boost back into the air. The baseball bat is also a great tool for collecting bonus points by knocking coconuts and money out of trees.
Also available to purchase with in-game money are other helpful objects, such as new wheels and jetpacks to increase ground speed, special hats and groupies to increase points, and special carts: a gold one and a dumpster. After buying certain pieces of equipment, two special moves are unlocked that allow you to tunnel underground and face a giant worm, or glide in the air to duke it out with a gorilla in a hot air balloon. These boss battles add a lot of extra challenge for seasoned carters.
There was one issue we came across with the upgrade store, however: high prices, namely on one-use items. These items, as well as the helmet and groupies, disappear after they’re used once but cost a large sum to buy, increasing each time you use them up until they reach their price cap. Without proper labeling of these items, we found this to be a setback to the game’s progression.
Stickman brings it home, with a handstand dismount.
Another issue that really holds the gameplay back is the landing physics. Unless the cart is almost level with the ground, you are destined to crash. Over time we got used to this, but it really hurt our initial success, which is key to simple games like this. Even after landing, the cart felt like rubber bouncing over the dirt mounds, also likely ending in a crash if you tilt the device at all.
Possibly our favorite feature in Shopping Cart Hero is the ability to save replays, upload them online, and watch those of others. This is extremely helpful when we wanted to see how the pros work their cart-riding skills. One we enjoyed a lot included killing off all the groupies in parasail mode by slamming into bombs, destroying the parachute, and still landing with speed to spare.
If this game is any indication, sleeping on the streets by night and rolling down hills at extreme speeds by day wouldn’t be such a horrible life to live. Shopping Cart Hero gives you the full experience of the spectacle without any pain, and for that reason alone we recommend casual gamers pick this up for the poor man’s price of $0.99.
Editor’s Note: Slide To Play will be reviewing more older games that have made it into the App Store Top Games list. If you have a game you’d like to see us review, drop us a note on twitter.com/slidetoplay