Trundle Unlimited in Review – Cogs Can Be Mascots Too…

 

There is a list that sits on my desk that is infamous – at least to me – because it is the list of all the games that I have slated for review.  It’s not a bad list, mind you, but rather a constant reminder that I have a lot of playing to do.  The problem with this is what has compelled me to write this particular review.  I sat down one day at lunch to play one of those games that I’m supposed to review, and I spent about 10 minutes with it.  The game was fun, but I was ready to move on.  Then I decided to go back to Trundle Unlimited.  Before I knew it a half hour had passed and my lunch break was over.  I felt like I had been playing for five minutes.

Trundle is perfection in platform gaming personified.  Does that mean the game is perfect?  No, but it manages to engross, satisfy and challenge all at the same time, and it makes use of my iOS device’s small form factor better than most portable platform games I have played to date.  But let’s jump back a bit.  First of all, the game eschews the idea that the main character has to be some fluffy mascot, and instead you take on the roll of a cog gear.  Add to the fact that the first creatures I’ve run into appear to be squat anime cockroach-like things, and you see how this isn’t your ordinary platform experience.

The puzzles aren’t of your typical “collect key, open door” variety either.  They require precision, timing, some intuition and a handle on game play physics that you might never fully grasp.  Don’t expect some simple single screen affairs here either.  In some cases the puzzles span multiple rooms, and even though you can’t see what’s above or below you until you get there, you’ll have to have a decent understanding of a room’s layout to know what you’re looking for when the apex of your jump peeks across room boundaries or your decent has come to a stop.

Controlling your cog is pretty basic.  You tilt the screen left and right to roll and tap the screen to jump.  If you’re by a flat or slightly inclined surface you can often jump multiple times by repeatedly hitting the jump button. The scheme works well in practice, but it often seems like it’s not quite as responsive as I’d like, which is my main point of contention with the game.  The sensitivity issue hasn’t been enough to keep me from playing Trundle, obviously, but it has certainly lengthened the amount of time it has taken me to solve some of the puzzles.

The world of Trundle is beautiful in its simplicity.  The iTunes description is pretty accurate when it describes the style as “Japanese Silhouette”.  There are details in as much as the outlines of the objects reveal, but don’t expect to see faces on the inhabitants or anything like that.  There is occasional color to alleviate the total feeling of bleakness, but it is certainly not a bright and cheerful world.  If I had to voice one complaint it’s that because of the “flat” nature of the silhouettes, it is often hard to discern background from objects you can actually land on or interact with.  The background music is somber and sometimes melancholy, almost giving the impression that you’re on a hopeless quest at times.  The sound effects are sporadic at best, and even when something does make noise it doesn’t happen every time you replay the scene.

Trundle is a prime example of why I like indie gaming.  Sure you might see a rare glimpse of this kind of genius from a “AAA publisher”, but it won’t happen very often.  The level designs are great, the visuals are sensational and the music is very nicely composed.  The challenge will turn away more than a few self proclaimed Super Mario gurus, but this is one of those things that’s just as much about the experience as actually beating the game.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Trundle UnlimitedDeveloper: mobile bros., LLC
Reviewed Ver:Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$1.99App Size:
  • Great level design
  • Fantastic visuals
  • Wonderful music
  • Slightly unresponsive controls
  • Sound effects are lacking

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