Updated: Stair Dismount Universal Review

In the iPhone world, adding a social gaming system such as OpenFeint can be a real game-changer. Add in some new content as well and you have what feels like a fresh new game. Stair Dismount does all this, and while there are still some kinks that need to be worked out, we had a much more enjoyable experience this time around.

The most important addition is the integration of OpenFeint, bringing online leaderboards. Some of the scores we have seen at the top of the ranks have been awe-inspiring, and we have spent some time trying to figure out new ways to attempt these feats.

The latest update also brings three new levels. Mt. Dismount is a diamond-shaped array of boxes that tower up on a slant. The Ledge is best described as a ridiculously high framework for a tower, with beams all along the inside.

Our favorite was Loose Bindings, where you start by wearing skiis. After pushing the ragdoll, they fly out behind him. If timed right, you can get them to hit him in midair. Suffice to say, it’s a lot of fun.

Stair Dismount isn’t quite perfect yet, with a lingering level end bug that occasionally ends the round while the ragdoll is still in motion and the continued lack of user-created content, but we now feel safe to say that this is the superior ragdoll physics game.

Stair Dismount recently received an update that made the game a universal binary so it can play natively on the iPad as well as the iPhone. The new higher resolution version is virtually the same game on the larger screen, but for some reason it seems to under-perform with a chugging framerate. Other changes include a better camera and a name change to Stair Dismount Universal. Since it doesn’t run well on the iPad, we recommend owners of the larger device hold off for now or at least give the also-universal lite version a shot first. For iPhone owners, its still a solid purchase.

Stair Dismount is exactly what the title suggests: you send a ragdoll flying down a set of stairs, gaining points proportional to how much damage you inflict. As satisfying as this can be in small bursts, the fun of harming inanimate objects only lasts so long due to a lack of levels and incentive to do better.

Calling Stair Dismount a ‘game’ is a bit of a misrepresentation. While there is scoring, this is more of a novelty physics toy aimed toward a niche audience. The gameplay boils down to choosing where you want to hit the ragdoll, pressing the dismount button when the moving power bar is where you want it, and watching your ragdoll smash its way to the ground to satisfy your lust for points.

Watch that first step: it’s a doozy.

This satisfaction is taken a step further through the ability to attach a picture of your friend’s (or boss’s) face to the head of the ragdoll. Pictures from your personal library or Facebook can be used. Face-mapping would have brought this a step further, though.

The realistic ragdoll physics engine that Stair Dismount is built on is easily its best selling point. Everything from friction to the velocity at which you push the ragdoll makes each fall a little differently while still being predictable. Secret Exit obviously spent a lot of time on this aspect of the game, and it really pays off.

Beyond this, the game is filled with shortcomings. There are a mere six stairways to push your ragdoll down, and after spending about ten rounds on each, we felt we had seen everything there was to see. We’d love to see new content in the future, as well as a level editor of some sort since Stair Dismount feels like the perfect app for this.

The handy sidebar shows you which bones you’ve broken.

Replay value is hindered without online scoring. You can go back to any level and try to top your own score, but this quickly got old.

Also important to note is a bug that occurs when your ragdoll slows down enough to trigger the end-of-round countdown. Even if the ragdoll slides off an edge and begins to drop at high speeds again, any damage taken won’t count since the round already ended. This occurs often enough to be a hindrance.

Unless you fit into the niche audience that Stair Dismount is aimed toward, you can skip this one, especially for $2.99. We hope future updates enhance what could be an enjoyable pastime.

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