We go bananas for the king-sized apes and aerial transit of Gorilla Gondola
The iOS platform is a fantastic space for creative games, but every once and a while it can be a bit difficult to classify them. Gorilla Gondola is a new title for the platform, and it falls somewhat into this category. Essentially a variant of the platforming genre, it’s a simple game that comes off as rather charming and a refreshing change of pace from the constant deluge of business simulations and zombie apps. That said, it’s far from perfect, containing some frustrating “platform” sequences coupled with a rather harsh fail mechanic.
Players take control of a smaller version of King Kong as they ride atop the rooftop of wire guided gondola (basically the trams one often sees at ski resorts). Safety hazards aside -- as well as any questions on the tensile strength of the cable holding the gondola -- players must jump up and down on the vehicle in order to successfully avoid a slew of obstacles peppering the worst designed passenger tram in existence.
The controls are well conceived. While players are on top of the tram, it follows the cable automatically along the center of a vertical plain. As it’s moving, players will be able to jump with an upward swipe and stomp with a downward swipe. Between these two basic movements, they will be able to bounce the tram up and down to avoid things like floating rocks, trees, and mountains. Should they hit, they will not immediately die, but the tram will become stuck, and players will have to unstick it before it goes off screen (the camera continues to dolly even if the tram has stopped).
Based on how well obstacles are cleared, player will earn score multipliers that boost their “Awesomeness” at the end of each section of a stage (there are about four to five sections for most). Also augmenting the score are scattered bananas that act like the coins in Mario games, and gates that can be leapt through. In order to aide in this challenge, users can tilt the iOS device left and right to influence direction slightly, and also attempt to collect various power ups such as magnets to attract bananas, weights to sink the tram, or balloons to make it float higher.
Such becomes even more critical as levels progress and enemies are introduced. In many cases (i.e. with Gorilla Gondola’s many floating sea mines), hitting such objects will result in a lost life. Yes, this app takes a page from the gaming of yesteryear. Working like Mario, collecting enough bananas will grant more lives, but in some of the harder levels, these will go away rather quickly.
This is where a bit of a harsh death penalty comes into play. For each individually lost life, it’s not bad at all. Players merely become invincible for a short time and move on. However, should all of them be lost (and there are sequences that are frustratingly difficult to navigate that cause such) players must restart the entire level all over again. This doesn’t seem bad, but again, each level is several sections and takes a good chunk of time to finish.
Now, for the record, this is not necessarily a bad thing and will depend on the preferences of the player. That said, since the game is created for mobile, and appears to be targeting more casual gamers, it could become exceedingly annoying; especially on the most difficult levels.
Regardless of this picked nit, the overall appeal of Gorilla Gondola is charming and refreshing. One really has to enjoy the platforming niche in general to like it, but from visuals to sound design, the quality certainly stands out. True, it can be a bit annoying with its death mechanics at time -- combined with long levels -- but in the grand scheme of things, such is not too bad. All that having been said, if anyone is a fan of platforming’esque games, then Gorilla Gondola is worth a look.
- Charming visual and audio style. Controls are fluid and easy to handle. Easy to learn, but fairly difficult to master.
- Death mechanic is a bit harsh considering the game’s target audience. Levels are rather long, making the death mechanic even harsher.