Mobile Game Review: Giant Boulder of Death (iOS)
If you had told me three years ago that Adult Swim was going to be one of the most successful publishers of mobile games, I might have laughed in your face. And while they haven’t exactly published the kind of genre-pushing, experimental games I look for on the platform, their catalogue of goofy and inventive free-to-play games is undeniably charming. Giant Boulder of Death is the newest in their collection, with longtime collaborators Pikpok sitting in the development seat.
In Giant Boulder of Death, you play as a massive ball of rock ready to take its wrath upon the unfortunate trees, buildings and people that populate the mountainside. But lest you think you play the villain in this story, you should know that those pesky villagers kidnapped this poor boulder’s girlfriend, making this a heroic mission of retrieving his pink-bowed damsel in distress (not joking in the slightest).
Aside from the silly story, the first thing you’ll notice about Giant Boulder of Death is the clear inspiration that the game draws from the Katamari series. Not only are you charged with the familiar task of rolling your massive ball over absolutely everything in your way, but the visual style also harkens back to the iconic Japanese puzzle series. Giant Boulder takes that bright and cheery look and translates it to a particularly inspired northern European setting full of yodeling villagers and mooing cows.
The third-person camera sits behind the boulder ala Temple Run, while the default controls involve tilting the device side to side to turn. The tilting controls work well enough, but a few other control schemes are given as alternatives as well. As you roll down the hill, knocking down as many objects as you can, your speed will pick up until you eventually hit a spiked wall or fall into a crevice to end your run. In all honesty, the first playthroughs of this “endless roller” will have you smiling as you watch your hero’s path of destruction and tale of vengeance play out.
As you might assume from a game of this sort, Giant Boulder features a huge list of achievements to tackle and in-game purchases to make. There have been plenty of examples of games that have pulled this off without making the developer go bankrupt or pissing off players, but Pikpok makes some fatal mistakes in the way it treats them in Giant Boulder. Upgrades, boosts and continues are all too expensive and are set up in a way that limits opportunities for players to progress through the game without breaking their banks. What’s even worse is that Giant Boulder really loves to ask you if want to share your score on Facebook—so much that it prompts you every single time you finish a run.
With a record of iOS games ranging from Robot Unicorn Attack 2 to Into The Dead, you can always expect a polished release from Pikpok—and upon first play, Giant Boulder of Death fits the bill. However, its treatment of in-app purchases and social media are irresponsible and unforgivable—they quickly kill any sense of real progress and lasting replay value. Since it’s free, it’s worth a few playthroughs if the theme catches your attention, but don’t expect much beyond that.
Giant Boulder of Death
Developer: Pikpok Games
Publisher: Adult Swim
Release Date: 09/15/13