A 2D “racing” game with addictive mechanics but less-than-stellar visuals.
Finnish game developers were hot stuff in the 2010s, but not all of them had Rovio’s level of fame and success (particularly after having released their first Angry Birds game). Fingersoft, another one of these Finnish devs, was an underdog by comparison, and they still are well after releasing Hill Climb Racing, with barely 55 people on their payroll vs. the 800+ people working for Rovio. Despite this, HCR performed so well that it was ranked as the seventh most used mobile game of the decade.
Hill Climb Racing’s 2D environment does remind me of Angry Birds but without the weird backdrops. It reminds me even more of Bad Piggies, if only because they share somewhat the same mechanics. Both games were also released roughly at the same time. However, Hill Climb Racing lacked the kookiness and wit that Rovio’s iconic porcine title had.
Instead, HCR is a barebones “racing” game with the trappings of a traditional platformer. In fact, you even collect coins and items down the road (no pun intended), just like you would in your typical Sonic or Mario game.
By the way, notice how I framed the word “racing” with quotation marks. That is because this is what we were led to believe when reading the description. Nevertheless, it’s not a racing game in the most traditional sense of the word.
The main purpose of this game is to get as far as possible without getting stuck, dying, or going out of fuel. Fuel canisters can be obtained as you traverse the stages to refill your gas level. In the process, you must collect the most number of coins.
Moreover, the game will reward you for performing various stunts - such as flips or prolonged air time – with more coins, which may be spent on unlocking vehicles, stages, and various upgrades. You gotta be careful though, for it’s very easy to get your neck snapped while doing your twists and turns! (and it’s not a pretty sight).
The terrains are hilly (hence the game’s name), getting steeper and steeper as you advance. In some cases, the game will take you to highly exotic locations filled with a plethora of hazards such as alligator-infested swamps or rain jungles. You’d also have to go through moving platforms to advance in some cases.
The game’s controls are very straightforward. You basically have two pedals: The “brake” on the left-hand side and the “gas” on the opposite side. The vehicle will bounce quite often and, for some reason, will tilt up and down as you press on the pedals while suspended midair, which is a “curious” and (I reckon) unrealistic phenomenon.
I’m no physicist, but my intuition tells me this is not how a normal vehicle would behave. Then again, things don’t have to make sense in order to be fun. If we want to play the “realistic” card, I’m not used to having my car tank filled by just touching a canister either, but that’s just me.
On another note, you’ll get a bulky number of vehicles in this game. Some of the vehicles you can drive include a motocross bike, a monster truck, a tractor, a hippie van, a onewheeler, Santa’s sleigh, and a moonlander (considered one of the best vehicles).
The moonlander is extremely overpowered, mainly because you can actually fly in it. Furthermore, it has incredible traction that should help you remain on track while grounded. I had no idea why riding a moonlander would ever be any compelling, since I felt like cheating the whole time (but perhaps I’m just too dense).
This game is, nevertheless, addicting.No wonder it has achieved such a high ranking, with the series accumulating over one billion uses (becoming the second Finnish franchise to reach this milestone after Angry Birds).In a world with a population of over 8 billion people, that’s quite the feat, if you ask me.
Lastly, the visuals are subpar but not necessarily a turn-off. In any event, they’re very “functional” and you’ll be able to enjoy a smooth framerate, which is an extremely important factor when playing these kinds of releases.
Hill Climb Racing is far from being a masterpiece, but hardly any car racing game receives the honor of being deemed one (save for some rare exceptions), so we won’t hold that against it. Perhaps the only real fault I can find with this game is that they added the ads, but you can still buy the ad-free version after collecting a certain number of gems and, what’s more, the ads are not overly disruptive of your game flow. This one is definitely worth checking out!
You can also give us your thoughts (or add more fuel to the fire) by racing towards the commentary box and typing away!
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