When a game manages to sit on top of the Top 25 charts for months on end, it’s bound to earn some attention from fellow developers looking to capture that magic. We’ve seen it before with clones unabashedly copying the formula from Fruit Ninja, and we’re seeing it now with Angry Birds. There’s nothing wrong with being ‘inspired’ by another successful game, but we believe you need to bring something new to the table.
Fresh off of earning Apple’s iPad Game of the Week honors, Trucks and Skulls is an iPad game that’s unquestionably inspired by Angry Birds. Is it an uninspired rip-off or does it move the needle on the emerging genre millions of people are addicted to?
The first thing that’ll smack you in the face from loading up Trucks and Skulls is the audacious presentation. It’s loud, big, and boisterous in a very charming way. Heavy metal and rock influences are prominent in the visual and audio components, and it’s exaggerated to add in humor. It works, brilliantly. We’ll touch on that more a bit later, but the first impression is powerful and gets you excited for what’s to come.
Trucks and Skulls undoubtedly stands on the shoulders of Angry Birds. It’s a physics-based puzzle game that has you flinging trucks into meticulously designed levels to destroy skulls. It’s a simple premise and goal for players, but the action gradually scales up to introduce complexity to the levels.
Depending on how well you destroy the level and the skulls, you earn anywhere from one to four ‘gears’ for the level. There are three different environments for the levels, and each of them has over 40 levels to figure out.
Outstanding creativity and variety makes Trucks and Skulls a blast to play. Progressing through stages brings on hilarious new gimmicks to make the trucks different. You’ll see normal trucks, spiky trucks, nuclear trucks, and many other surprises that’ll put a smile on your face.
The skulls and level layouts receive tweaks to bring new elements to consider. You’ll see steel-plated skulls that require some extra firepower before they explode, or walls that bounce anything that touches them (with a comical sound effect). The pacing feels practically perfect, but the difficulty level is a pushover until you breeze through the first 80 levels.
Appetite for destruction.
We talked about the eye candy earlier, but it deserves more elaboration. Trucks and Skulls HD is a visual force of nature. Everything is vivid, crisp, and full of details that give the game huge personality. The truck types have unique flight paths, sound effects, and dedicated physics. Stages have environmental layouts that can either help or hurt your pursuit of that four gear ranking. Setting off a series of explosive barrels temporarily flashes the screen like a nuclear explosion, and it’s always great seeing what’s left standing after the chaos.
Rounding out this complete package is some great online support and sharing tools. With complete Game Center support, checking scores and comparing progress with friends couldn’t be any easier. Also, a dedicated Level Maker mode allows you to build levels and share them with your friends. The interface is a straightforward enough, but it will take some time making creations on par with the real levels. The only annoyance with the creation mode is the inability to easily download levels from the online community. You have to literally send your file in an email and have the file imported into the game, and vice versa.
Trucks and Skulls HD is an extremely satisfying game. It’s a toss-up whether this game is better than Angry Birds, but the fact that it’s a legitimate question speaks to how impressed we are by Trucks and Skulls HD. Note to all developers: This is how you take the ball and run with it.