The digital marketplace is positively stuffed with “endless” games. Endless tapping. Endless running. Endless flying. There’s probably an endless peeing game out there, but I don’t feel the compulsion to look very carefully.
The abundance of endless running games isn’t a bad thing, but like any well-worn genre, you’re going to get your memorable entries as well as your forgettable ones. So what separates the keepers from the apps that are consigned to data oblivion thirty minutes after they’re downloaded?
Radical Rappelling from Halfbrick Studios is a good showcase of what makes any endless [ verb] game worth returning to. Since the idea has been done to death by this point, what matters most is for a the experience to feel unique. And Radical Rappelling carries a distinct rhythm and weight helps it stand out from other endless titles.
Radical Rappelling gives you one mission: Rappel. Radically. You can choose to play as Rip or Roxy, both of whom have their own gear and collectables. You can switch back and forth before a descent, so you’re not locked into your selection.
At the starting gun, your sportsperson leaps off a cliff summit (with a backflip, of course) and begins climbing down, down, down. But this is no regular cliff. This is an extreme cliff. Its face is littered with coins, weird devices, and for some reason, mines.
If your sportsperson is left idle, they automatically and rhythmically pump themselves away from the cliff face. When you press the screen, they descend. In order to last in Radical Rappelling, you need to balance your climber’s descent with the momentum they generate when they push away from the cliff face. By doing so, you can successfully grab coins and power-ups while avoiding the mines that bring a gristly end to your sport if touched.
The first few times you play Radical Rappelling, you’re sure to get completely wrecked. You can’t dawdle, since there’s an inexorable and inexplicable lava flow coming down from above. But merely pressing the screen to go as fast as you can will send you face-first into a mine.
Once you get the hang of Radical Rappelling’s song, however, it’s very satisfying to experience again and again. You quickly learn how to use the cliff’s uneven surface to gain the leverage you need to clear traps and grab far-away coins.
The game also has little tricks for keeping you engaged. There are rocks to hop on in sequence, targets to jump on, little tunnels to roll through, and a “Radical!” meter that fills up and grants you a few precious seconds of destructive invincibility.
Radical Rappelling has a few threadbare portions in its rope, however. The game freezes from time to time — not permanently, but long enough to screw up your rhythm. And the button that lets you start a descent is perilously close to the button that lets you roll for power-ups you can use in-game, an option that costs a lot of coins to execute. In other words, you might be saving up your coins, only to accidentally blow your stash on some power-ups you never wanted.
These problems are merely small pebbles, though. Radical Rappelling is a pretty bodacious experience overall, and a must-try for dudes and dudettes who love endless games.