Madcoaster is another great high score chase, but with loop-de-loops!
I absolutely adore roller coasters. My wife and I both do. We search them out and catalog the ones we’ve ridden. I have my top 10 favorites (#1 is Loch Ness Monster, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg Virginia). Elements that I love and loathe (cobra and heartline rolls are the best). I can talk about them the way some people talk about cars or sports. Sadly, my passion for these wood and steel giants has gone largely forgotten in the video game world, unless you like building them in Rollercoaster Tycoon (which I do, I just want more variety). Enter Chillingo’s Madcoaster.
You’ll notice about two seconds into your first Madcoaster game that despite the theme, this doesn’t really have much to do with actual roller coasters. This is more a Tiny Wings/Canabalt type of game than it is a straight coaster simulation. Your task is to race along the track and jump over the gaps, grabbing coins and smacking down birds. The point is really to snag a high score while trying to travel as far as you can down the track before falling.
Similar to Tiny Wings you can level up by completing objectives, which in turn gives you a slicker looking roller coaster car and ups the score multiplayer. Objectives are things like hitting a certain number of birds in the air, traveling a certain distance, or grabbing set numbers of coins. Every time you level up you get 3 new objectives to satisfy, all in the ever elusive search of a new high score or a further distance traveled.
And that’s really the driving allure to Madcoaster. The constant thought that you can go just a little further than last time. Score a little bit higher. Like Jetpack Joyride, Tiny Wings, Canabalt, and more, the carrot on a stick is still the same and just as addictive as ever. Along the way you can grab some power ups to help you survive or up your score. The rollercoaster angle here, while being severely goofy, really works in the context of the game.
That said, there are some issues that drag the experience down a bit. First and foremost is the difficulty. It didn’t take me more than a few games to figure out the patterns they use for jumps, ramps and where creatures to knock around are going to appear, which served to make the game a bit too easy.
Another issue I had involved the different “themes,” or backgrounds you raced past. When you first start the game there are only four or five, so they get reused pretty quickly. When you hit the end of a loop and start over you feel like you’ve done a lap so to speak, and this lap goes too fast. You’ll open up more themes if you do well enough in-game (or you can buy them), but it’s an anticlimactic feature to unlock (or sell quite honestly).
And no matter which land or theme you’re in, they’re all the same in terms of gameplay. Nothing is different about the tracks or the kinds of obstacles you see. Even the birds are the same. The only changes are the background, the music, and the creatures that hang out on the track waiting to be hit. If you have so few themes, you should at least make them a little more unique and varied.
Ultimately, I’d like to see more roller coaster elements in play. They have loops which are good fun, but I want to see corkscrews and big hills. Elements like this could really add to the game’s enjoyment.
Here’s the good news though: in spite of these issues, my biggest problem with the game is that there isn’t more of it. I’m having a blast playing Madcoaster, and I keep going back to try and get just a bit further. It’s a ton of fun, and the rollercoaster tie-in (while making zero sense) is awesome. Please give us more Madcoaster, Chillingo! Post haste!