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Bobbing

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Who dares spins

Product: Bobbing | Developer: Little Bobby Games | Publisher: Little Bobby Games | Format: iPad | Genre: Arcade, Casual | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Bobbing iPad, thumbnail 1
I think it's time that we stopped using rubbing your tummy and patting your head as an example of supreme coordination. In this age of top-down racers and twin-stick shoot-'em-ups, it's just not that difficult. Try it now. See?

Bobbing has a good case for being the new standard reference point for difficulty, because it makes rubbing your tummy and patting your head look about as tricky as sitting down on a lovely chair.

The goal in this surreal techno-blasting casual game is to get from the entrance to the exit in each rotating drum-like stage.

Your strange little pie-faced sprite runs automatically, and you can affect his progress in two ways – either by reversing his gravitational centre so that he flips between the floor and the ceiling, or by turning him blue or pink so that he can pass through force fields of the corresponding colour.

You can flip gravity to avoid three kinds of obstacle: ridges, deadly orange bits, and gaps. If you run into a ridge you don't die immediately – you just lose points until the drum revolves you out of view. Then you die.

The chaos engine


There are also blue wavy beams that teleport you elsewhere in the drum, stripy revolving pillars that reverse your direction, and green beams that bounce you back where you came from and then disappear.

These are the basic elements from which Bobbing's mind-breaking, reaction-testing, nerve-blasting gameplay emerges.

The early stages are straightforward enough. You reverse gravity to avoid obstacles, change colour to get through forcefields, and generally stroll towards the exit, collecting coins while you nod along to the driving techno soundtrack.

But once all the elements are in play Bobbing becomes a serious challenge. You're all but forced to throw away turns just to reconnoitre the stages, learning where the teleporters are going to spit you out and plotting a course through the increasingly labyrinthiform, puzzle-style drums.

A typical stage might require you to rebound from a green beam just to make it disappear so that you can navigate your way back to that point via reversing pillars and teleporters and enter the newly accessible section on your way back around.

Some stages wrongfoot you by placing forcefields over deadly orange bits, so that you need to suddenly shake the colour-matching habit that you've been trying so hard to establish in your reptilian twitch-gaming hindbrain. You can never relax.

Don't panic

The controls are very simple and very responsive, which is great, although you may wish they were a little bit less responsive every time you panic-twitch your way into the afterlife.

The 45-stage Easy mode is manageable, but by the time you're 20 stages into the 100-stage Classic mode you'll be all but forced to rely on memory, patience, and a supernatural ability to stay calm to reach the exit.

Incredibly, a Hardcore mode is also on the way, along with an Endless mode, which should at least give you a good opportunity to practise, and if you manage to polish that off you can still go back and try to collect every coin.

But you will never, ever find yourself in that position. Bobbing is monstrously difficult, and if you're low on skill or patience that means it's bound to become monstrously tedious - even though the turns are short and it takes no time to start again whenever you die.

If you're up for the challenge, this is a clever, bracing, well-presented game that will keep you busy for a long time. It can be repetitive, and even the most talented players will have to repeatedly replay an awful lot of stages, but in an App Store dominated by cutesy time-wasters apparently designed for people who think it's difficult to pat your head and rub your tummy it's nice to find a crueller sort of game from time to time.
 
Bobbing
Reviewer photo
Rob Hearn | 20 March 2013
Bobbing is no picnic, but if you've got the patience to deal with its stringent demands you'll find a lot to enjoy in its creative, intelligently designed gameplay
 
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