There’s something incredibly compelling about a mobile game with simple mechanics and a maddeningly frustrating success rate. If you’ve played Flappy Bird or one of the several clones out there, you know exactly what that means.
Gavin Bowman, an indie developer and co-founder of Retro Dreamer, wanted to make a game that he could reasonably finish within one weekend, as part of a “game jam” called Ludum Dare, the theme of which was “connected worlds.”
“I was trying to come up with something for the game jam that I could definitely finish,” Bowman tells Cult of Mac. “So I had to keep the art and mechanic fairly simple to have it be releasably finished versus game jam finished.”
The result is a one-tap wonder of a little game that has you tapping your iPhone (or iPad) screen to send a little sphere off one planet to another that’s spinning around it, like planets and moons tend to do. When you find just the right timing for your tap, the success feels glorious, but when you miss, well, let’s say the f-bomb comes into play quite a bit.
The version of Planet Hop you can download today is the very same version that Bowman finished up this past Sunday.
“I worked on the game Friday night through Sunday afternoon,” he says. “When I posted the web version people seemed to enjoy it, so I submitted it to the App Store that night. Since then I’ve spent a bit of time getting updates, creative stuff (I don’t like the first icon I made that night), and other platforms ready.”
Bowman created the little game in an homage to older arcade games like Donkey Kong Country, where you hop from one barrel to the next, as well as the feel of riding a fairground teacup ride, which is fun, but definitely takes some vestibular fortitude.
After finishing up the game, Bowman found a great creative commons soundtrack on NosoApRadio. “It’s got a great sound,” says Bowman, “so once I found a good techno piece with the right pacing it just fit perfectly.”
The game itself seems fair – every time I miss a tap, though, I feel like it’s my own fault rather than through any specific issue with the game or its mechanics. Bowman says that was intentional.
“I think the feeling of fairness could be down to the simplicity and the speed,” he says. “There’s not much for the game to screw up for you, it’s all on you.”
Did he try for the super brutal ethic of a game like Flappy Bird, though? The trailer for the game seems to imply that there was an intentional nod to the crazy-successful indie game.
“Sure, people seem to like hard games at the moment, and I think that’s great, I love it,” he admits. “Flappy Bird’s success and hardcore games like Super Hexagon have definitely enabled us to look at more challenging mechanics.”
You’ll lose nothing but time — and maybe a little emotional equanimity — by downloading this simple yet oddly compelling game today. Give it a try and remember not to throw your iPhone when you miss a planet or two.
Source: App Store