Control issues kill a potentially enjoyable game

With every genre of games, you have games that try to crib from others while introducing a few of their own concepts. Urban Fleak shares similarities to titles such as EA’s Max and the Magic Marker, with your ability to draw your way through solutions to puzzles. Unfortunately, Urban Fleak does not bring similar amounts of polish to EA’s effort. While there are some solid puzzles to be had, technical issues mar what could have been an enjoyable game.

In Urban Fleak, you control your character completely through the accelerometer—tilt to the left, and your character hops to the left. From there, you build platforms for yourself with different colored paint. The different paint has different attributes, as you would imagine. White paint is a simple platform (and sometimes blocks incoming platform-breaking projectiles), green paint speeds you along it, red allows you to jump, and blue allows you to float along on water. The game is set up much like Angry Birds, with stages where you are ranked with stars (based on how much paint you use). There are five stages with ten levels each. The scores are simply for your own satisfaction, as there are no achievements or leaderboards.

Urban Fleak

The game does a nice job introducing all the mechanics in the first levels, but when the game begins proper, Urban Fleak breaks down for a number of reasons. First and most annoying is that the game forces you to play with your left thumb by the home button. In theory, it is not any different than holding the game horizontally with your right thumb sitting by the home button, but it’s an awkward set up to play the game. I understand why mid-game you cannot switch perspectives due to the accelerometer controls, but during the start screen—let me get comfortable. A number of times I would accidentally clip the home button, causing ample amounts of rage.

Next, I got the sense that the platforms weren’t always consistent. In one particular level, the jumping on the red platform resulted in two different sized jumps, which was puzzling.

This sort of problem kills some of the inventiveness that these games can inspire. Building these tools and giving them traits, players have to trust that these tools will work, and I never trusted the platforms to always do what I needed to do. What doesn’t help matters are the accelerometer controls, which are poor at best. You have to really want it, sliding the iPhone hard to the right or left to get your character to move.

There is a good game hidden in there somewhere, but the technical issues completely kill any potential Urban Fleak might have. What good is puzzle design if you have inconsistent mechanics and shoddy controls? There are much better ways to spend your time and your money. There simply is not enough here to recommend Urban Fleak to anyone.