Publisher: Disney Mobile
Format: iOS (Reviewed), Android
Release Date: November 1, 2012
Price: $0.99 – Download Here
Disney’s Wreck-it Ralph mobile app includes 3 arcade games – Fix-it Felix Jr., the Sugar Rush Sweet Climber and Hero’s Duty (with more to come) – that are based within the world of their latest animated film of the same name. The comedy sees Wreck-it Ralph, the villain of the arcade title Fix It Felix Jr., jump across the various games of Litwak’s Arcade in an attempt to shed his villainous reputation and prove himself a hero to the other characters. The mobile game promises to provide the same visual continuity and charm as the film, but is it a Hero’s Duty to buy this app?
Fix-it Felix Jr. has you climb the side of the Niceland apartment building, on a 2D plane, as you attempt to fix all the broken windows that have been smashed by the evil Wreck-it Ralph. As you jump between windows using the virtual joystick, Ralph will attempt to knock you down by throwing bricks from above. These bricks will also occasionally break windows themselves. You have 3 lives and are also being timed, although the timer should rarely be an issue for you. However, the time you have left when having completed a level will add bonus points to your score. Running out of time means you lose that potential bonus, and also one life.
As the stages progress, additional obstacles will be introduced, such as path-obstructing flowerbeds on window-sills and open shutters, and what appear to be flying geese – which will damage you if touched. Ralph also speeds up in his brick throwing. These additions to the gameplay make a dramatic difference as you think more carefully about timing and movement, hoping not to get trapped in the process. As an advantage, a hot pie will periodically be placed on a window sill, that when picked up will grant Felx Jr. invincibility and double points for every window he fixes for a short period of time.
The Sugar Rush Sweet Climber is an infinite climbing game where you must tilt your iDevice to control Wreck-it Ralph and ensure he does not miss a candy stalk as he will fall and the game will be over. Ralph will collect coloured jelly-beans, among other candies, each with differing point values as you manoeuvre him as high up as you can go. Soda bottles can also be collected, and will add to your speed boost meter at the top of the screen. A speed boost can be engaged by tapping anywhere on the screen. There are also items that will give you a special ability for a limited time, such as the marshmallow, will will allow you to float upwards as you hold on for dear life. But, you must watch out for weak branches, which will disintegrate after just one bounce. I learned the hard way, also, that Ralph will not connect with candy canes really low on the screen, which is a minor annoyance.
Lastly, Hero’s Duty is a top-down shooter, utilising two virtual thumbsticks; one for movement and one for aim/shooting. You must destroy all the glowing green Cy-Bugs in any given wave to progress. As the levels rise, so does the number of enemies and enemy types. Barriers – which block your bullets’s trajectory -and bug-laid traps (they look like a patch of lava?!) are introduced among other nasty combat elements. However, you will discover 6 unique pick-ups that will drop from your decimated enemies, which will lend a big hand in your survival of these progressively harder waves. Some of these include a health boost and a grenade launcher or flame-thrower weapon upgrade. These power-ups run out of ammo, which your regular gun does not. So use them effectively and at the most opportunistic moments!
All-in-all, the three games offer very different gameplay experiences, although none are unfamiliar to us. If I had to nitpick, there were moments where I thought that the difficulty had all-of-a-sudden jumped up significantly instead of incrementally getting more challenging, but it did not bother me; it just challenged me further. Each game preserves the charm of the source, whilst providing a fun, and likely addictive, time at the arcade. As a time waster, it is perfect. It should be mentioned that you can pause the games at any time, and can also rank your leader-board score locally, globally or against your Facebook friends’. Also, there are Game Center achievements for each game, which can be viewed, traditionally, through the Game Center app, or via pressing the trophy icon to the right of the play button for each respective game.
The main menu (dubbed Game Central Station) for the app consists of four pages that you can swipe between. Each pages houses one of the aforementioned games, with the fourth page reserved for a racing game called TurboTime, which will be available with the next update. The menu, although not adopting an arcade machine façade, does remind you of the arcade nature of the app, with a scoreboard placed at the top of each page for its respective games. There is a Disney logo on the bottom right which takes you to a page displaying all of Disney Mobile’s apps, available for you to browse and download. On the bottom left is the recognisable gear icon that will take you to your settings menu, where you may adjust the sound effects and music volumes, as well as view the credits and log into your Facebook profile – which at this juncture, does not want to work for me!
All 3 games have their expected, bright and colourful visual design elements, although each game has a different color scheme and feel. Fix-it Felix Jr. adopts the ever-nostalgic 8-Bit graphics we love with earthier tones, while Sweet Climber is much more vibrant with a more modern, yet cartoon-like, graphics quality. Hero’s Duty, on the other hand, is much darker, and is the only title to play with true depth and 3D space. Even though the 3 look radically different from each other, they still feel a part of the same universe. Having not watched the film myself, but recognising Wreck-it Ralph’s visual inspiration, I can appreciate it all the same.
When at Game Central Station, you will hear the bustle and hustle akin to people rushing to catch their trains. Some funny dialogue plays over the station’s speaker system, and the Surge Protector character will pop up after a bout of inactivity to tease you about being “slow” (in the least offensive way, of course) or make other humorous quips. Each character standing in front of their respective games will also speak a line of dialogue once you tap on them. For example, Felix Jr. aptly and excitedly exclaims “I can fix it!”
Wreck-it Ralph’s background music is, at times, very reminiscent of the sort of chip-tunes that were being made and utilised in old 80s arcade titles, with lots of beeps and buzzes, and simulated baselines. It definitely ties together the whole concept of the arcade homage. Some of the sound effects, especially in Fix-it Felix Jr., also have these distinctly arcade-generation qualities about them. I couldn’t help but think that there were missed opportunities for taking sound-bites from the film and including that dialogue in appropriate places during the gameplay itself.
The Wreck-it Ralph app is only $0.99, and I find it hard to fault a game (let alone 3-in-1!) when they are so cheap. Looking back, maybe the difficulty spikes a little bit too heavily, in Fix-it Felix Jr. and Hero’s Duty particularly, and maybe more film dialogue could have been adapted and featured in-game, but these are very minor points to make. Again, for $0.99, you can grab yourself three great time wasters that may actually have you addicted to climbing that leader-board much like a candy-cane stalk! Don’t be cheap, just buy it!