Youda Beaver Emphasizes Gyroscope Controls on iOS

Gyroscopically controlled games tend to be a bit hit-or-miss with most players, but a newer iOS game dubbed Youda Beaver is attempting to polish the genre up. Perhaps best described as a platforming game, the application from Youdagames tries to stylize itself with its perky disposition and curious characters. That said, the game’s controls do feel annoyingly weak with no means to calibrate them, and though it can be gotten used to, the enjoyment factor will be strictly dependent on one’s like of tilt-based control mechanisms in the first place.

So a little guy named Danny the Beaver is afraid of water and would love to be able to go swimming with his friends in the river. Well, to answer his prayers he is visited by the “Beaver Llama” who tasks Danny with travelling a great distance to find him. With the Llama’s claim that he can help, Danny does the only logical thing with his phobia: He jumps on a log and starts rolling it down the river.

It’s all a bit absurd, but that’s part of the aesthetic charm that Youda Beaver contains. It’s quite polished visually and at a glance, it at least looks like an interesting game to play. The oddities of the app work into the core functionality as well. As players roll down the river their objective is to reach the end of each stage by keeping their balance on the turning log whilst leaping from one to the next. However, any miscalculation, and Danny will have to learn to swim awful quickly.

Youda Beaver

The controls themselves are intuitive enough. In order to keep upright, users tilt their iDevice left and right to shift Danny’s balance. The further forward he leans, too, the faster he’ll move. The idea is to use this momentum to make jumps onto subsequent logs before they collide; effectively sending players into the drink. This, in and of itself, is relatively easy to deal with, so in order to garner a greater challenge Youdagames has introduced several different types of obstacles in order to up the ante a little bit.

Throughout each stage, there are also several critters that try to muck up Danny’s equilibrium. It doesn’t always make sense – referring back to the noted absurdities – but one such example are canaries that decide to float onto users’ log and knock them off. Such is a bit vague on how to handle though as the game only tells players once with no way to reference it again, and don’t ask how a couple once canary affects a log. In addition to this, there are other land-locked animals that have some innate desire to pelt poor Danny with projectiles like acorns, forcing players to sprint passed them before getting knocked into the water.

Youda Beaver

It all makes for a great variety of challenges in levels, without being convoluted, but the problem is that the controls just don’t feel like they have much finesse. Right off the bat, the first problem is that there appears to be no notable way to calibrate the iDevice, which means that even the first play through, the controls will be less than optimal. Moreover, the nature of tilt controls tends to be a bit cumbersome all its own, which tends to make precision platforming a bit problematic. Thankfully, after some practice it is doable, but the initial experience is incorrigibly annoying until that point is reached. Also on the downside is an odd bug where absolutely no obstacles will appear until players fall.

If players do stick with Youda Beaver, there’s a decent variety in the levels too. Unlocked by collecting stars scattered throughout earlier stages, regions include jungles, icy reaches, and even rivers of molten lava. However, since the initial version of the game is free to download, only the first handful is available. The rest must be unlocked via an in-app purchase that releases the entire game. Once they are all unlocked, the replay value becomes a challenge in earning highscores.

Youda Beaver

Overall, Youda Beaver is an okay game. If nothing else, it’s a well-polished visual presentation that tries to do something more unique in an age full of carbon copied clones. Relatively simple to learn, the only real problem with the game is the inability to calibrate the orientation of the iDevice. Without it, the controls can feel awkward (more so than they already are with tilt control), but they can be gotten used to. In the end, it really just comes down to whether or not such control mechanics are liked by the player in question.