Game Reviews

Cows Don’t Fly Review – Square cows in round holes.

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The title’s a lie, since cows can fly! But they definitely can’t swim… Roll and hop your strangely-shaped cow toward the portal, physics-style, using Bongo-gravity as your guide. But, don’t forget the stars!

Title: Cows Don’t Fly | Developer: HyperBees, Ltd.Genre: Action, Casual |

Players: 1 | Version: 1.0 | Size: 12.7MB | Price: £1.49 ($2.41)

Cows_QRCClick QRC image (from phone) or scan with a barcode reader.

 

The title is an odd one, but so is the game… Over the course of 15 cartoonish levels, you will need to navigate your square-shaped cow-thing to the portal; which is opened by gathering stars. Cows Don’t Fly is a physics-style action game, and you will be using the relative gravity of these large, bubble-licious circles, called Bongos, to keep you from falling into the water below. Sounds simple, right? Hardly.

Controlling your cow-peg is a pain in the ***, and it’s the physics that make this game quite challenging, if not downright frustrating. Cows Don’t Fly fully utilizes your phone’s accelerometer to control your bovine companion. You’ll be tilting your phone right to roll your cow clockwise, and left to roll him counter-clockwise. Tapping anywhere on the screen will make your cow bounce, and holding the tap releases him from the Bongo-gravity, whereupon your cow will start to glow and “fly”. Sadly, you can only fly down the screen (more like falling, really). Once you let-go of the tap, you’ll be sucked-into the gravity field of the nearest Bongo.

Keeping those controls in-mind, each level is full of these huge, single-colored Bongo-spheres, and at the bottom lies a pool of deadly, razor-sharp, suffocating… water. Cows can’t swim, but they sure can roll! In order to get to the free-floating stars, and eventually the portal, you’ll need to rotate-around, bounce-on, and orbit these Bongos as you might in a platform arcade game.

All Bongos aren’t created equal. In my time playing, I discovered a few Bongo-varieties. The basic blue Bongos just sit there, smiling, as you use them to bounce on (kinda like some people I know). Green Bongos give you a little more bounce for your ounce, and red Bongos get straight-up pissed when you touch them (ie. they’ll drop you into the water if you hang-on too long). The yellow Bongos will rise and fall if you rotate around them just right, allowing you to get closer to your next Bongo, star, heart, or the portal.

Speaking of hearts (lives), you’ve got a fixed number of them in each level, and running into the mean-spirited, dark purple, spiky block-things will hurt you! Unfortunately, there’s really no way to make mid-course corrections (cows don’t have stabilizing rockets). Should you find your cow barreling toward one of these spike-blocks, you’re pretty much screwed. There’s also the wet-factor… most levels only involve a stagnant pool at the bottom of the screen which, if you fall into, will kill you outright. A few levels, however, put the heat-on by slowly raising the water level as you play. You’ll be restarting each level many times, so get used to it.

Finally, if you get bored (or too irritated) by the standard game, you can enter “Challenge” mode – a continual upwards-climb that nets you more points the longer you keep your cow alive. Your high-score will be posted to the Open Feint leader boards, if you so desire, where you can compare your cow-hopping skills to other people around the world.

Controls: Tough, tricky, frustrating, and innovative are all words that come to mind. The controls in Cows Don’t Fly really make-and-break the game.

While responding pretty well to phone-tilting, it’s too bad your cow isn’t more responsive. The short delay that happens as your cow registers a change of direction is almost always just enough to kill you. I also ended-up getting really frustrated at how I was perceiving movement when your cow’s on-top of a Bongo vs on the bottom. Your instinct will be to tilt-right to rotate your cow right, but in reality, tilting-right moves it clockwise. So, when your cow’s on the top of a Bongo, you’ll move as-expected… but when on the bottom, tilting right moves you left. It’s a tricky paradigm that you’ll have to master before you get anywhere in this game.

Regarding so-called “flight”, tilting your phone down will accelerate your cow’s downward-speed, so you’d assume you can tilt your phone away from you to get him to fly in the opposite direction, right? Not true. Your cow, being fat and heavy from too much grass, always falls (or flies) down. This took me a while to figure out. To end your flight, let-go of the screen and he’ll be sucked back into the orbit of the nearest Bongo again. PS: Here’s a tip – tap with your index finger instead of your thumb; it’s easier to see the screen that way.

Graphics: Cows Don’t Fly feels like playing a game in a children’s story book; the graphics are cartoonish and simple, which works ok. However, I wasn’t so impressed with the low-quality color depth. In other games that used vector-like illustrations, the edges are usually smooth and the colors solid and vibrant. It would seem, in this game, that they skimped a bit on the quality. Over-all, it feels like the developers used a basic 256-color palette when they should have used a 16-million. Definite ding on the score here…

Sound: The background music is fun and festive, again reminiscent of a children’s story. There’s one solitary track, which gets a bit repetitive, and the sound effects themselves (especially the “tap” when your cow hits a Bongo) are a bit… unrefined. Could use some polish in this department as well.

Options: Not much in the way of options, but I don’t think any are really needed. You can toggle the music, and play the Open Feint “Challenge” mode. That’s about it!

Verdict: Cows Don’t Fly is a fun, challenging little game that will provide some serious frustration until you get used to the controls (give it a few levels). The physics are interesting, and I always love games with these bizarre styles! I would definitely bump this to a 4-star game if they bring the graphics up-to-snuff and give the sound-effects a little more polish. Is it worth $2.40? Not yet, but stay-tuned for updates and discounts.

Rating: ★★★

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