Maya The Bee: Flying Challenge in Review – Kid Friendly, Infinite Flying Fun

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Looking at the screen shots for Flying Challenge I had a feeling this was going to be geared towards kids.  Spending some time with the game has basically confirmed that suspicion, though that’s in no way meant to be a negative towards the game.  It certainly has all the hallmarks of your typical infinite runner (or in this case flyer), but it tones things down a bit for the sake of the little ones.  None of that stopped me from wanting to keep playing the game instead of taking my son down to the bus on the morning when I was writing this review.

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You control Maya – and eventually Willy if you’re willy-ing to spend a buck via IAP to buy him – in a quest to help Mrs. Cassandra collect some flowers for a lesson she wants to teach.  There are 10 plants to collect altogether, and you shouldn’t be surprised if you go many rounds between finding each one.  Thankfully that’s not all there is to do, however.  At the beginning of each run you’ll be presented with three missions to complete, some of which are actually kind of challenging.  Maya’s even nice enough to recycle missions as you complete them, which is a good thing since there’s no way to skip a mission you deem especially difficult.  The other thing you can do is collect honeycombs which serve the dual purpose of keeping your meter full so you can continue to fly and providing you the in-game currency needed to upgrade three different skills.

To control your selected bee you can either tilt the screen or use a one finger touch control.  Now I never claim to be an expert at playing games, but the touch control seems to elude me on this one.  On the other hand, the tilt control is one of the best calibrated I’ve seen in an infinite travelling style game.  Besides the missions the game does offer a Leaderboard via Game Center, but there are no achievements either related to the missions or otherwise.  The biggest problem I have with this game is it lacks the diversity of power up and character unlocks that I’ve come to expect from this style of game play.  In fact, the only additional character you can unlock you have to pay for, and the same goes for the one “unlockable” world.  What’s worse is that besides redecorating the obstacles, introducing a new world into the mix doesn’t even add anything to the game play.  I think the standard game is decent if a bit lacking, but I’m not really seeing much point in investing in the IAP unless you have to have a second playable character.

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The graphics in Flying Challenge are very nice.  The 3D scrolling images in the foreground look decent and rarely manifest clipping issues, and the static background does a good job of providing depth while avoiding the draw-in issues that are common with engines that try and simulate a vast viewpoint.  The main character is pretty cute, too.  The sound effects are okay, and the voiceover is cute for a while but can get on your nerves quickly, which means the kids will probably love it.  The soundtrack is well written but appears to be comprised of only one or two songs (I think it’s just one fairly long one).  It would be nice if each world at least had its own theme.

Maya The Bee: Flying Challenge is what I would call an introduction to infinite games, and that it does pretty well.  The environment and the cute bee should entertain the kids, and there’s actually enough substance that parents might like to take it for a spin once in a while.  Hardcore infinite runners that thrill at the likes of Temple Run will probably be disappointed, however.  The lack in variety of obstacles to avoid, limited power ups to upgrade and no characters to unlock via in-game currency severely limit the long term replay factor.  There’s plenty of potential here, and hopefully it will get explored more fully in the future.

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App Summary
Title: Maya The Bee: Flying Challenge Developer: Bulkypix
Reviewed Ver:  1.1 Min OS Req:  5.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:  57.6 MB
  • Lots of missions to complete
  • Nice visuals
  • Good music
  • Touch control is flaky
  • Limited power ups and no character unlockables
  • Different environments don’t impact game play
  • Voiceovers get annoying

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