Review: Gorilla Gondola
A brand new game from a UK based developer for Windows Phone? Hold us back! Electric Pixel Factory got in touch with us here at AAWP to let us know about its debut release, Gorilla Gondola. Would we like to have a look at? It has a gorilla... on a gondola... collecting fruit... Err, okay.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
Your goal is simple - to collect as many bananas as possible. You'll be taken through various landscapes on the top of the gondola, but there's an added complication. The path of the gondola is not clear of obstructions, so the gorilla you control will need to make sure, through well timed jumps, to steer the gondola to safety.
Gorilla Gondola is something of a surprise to me - it's a platform game with a game-play mechanism that I've not come across before. This is partly down to taking advantage of the sensors available in a Windows Phone - both touch and tilt are used independently here - but it also shows a design team thinking about how best to what is available for them.
This is a game specifically designed for a mobile phone, and it shows.
I am left a bit puzzled by the in-game physics that allow this to happen though. By tilting your phone left and right, you can swing the gondola/cable car a little bit along the wire in either direction. It's enough to let you zap through a gap, or hover over a spot depending on what you need. At the same time, swiping on the screen makes the gorilla jump up in the air, and a swipe down lets him "pound" down hard, pushing the gondola lower to the ground as it bounces.
What gets me is the immense momentum changes the gorilla can make in the air, because he will always land on the gondola. He can jump up while the gondola is stationary on the screen, he'll follow the gondola as it starts to tilt to the left, he can change his speed of descent with a down swipe, and as the gondola snaps to the right to avoid the tree, he can pivot in mid air and still land squarely on the cab. Truly a superhero simian.
Why is this so important to me? Because it's the one area of Gorilla Gondola where I think it falls short of being majestic. I love that you have two totally independent control methods that have an impact on the game, and you have to use both of them to succeed. While they have an affect on the two game elements, there's still something of a disconnect between the up and down, and the left and right. Yes they combine so you can guide the gondola around the terrain, bounce it over trees, and stomp it under overhangs, but it does feel as if there's something missing. What, I can't say.
But it doesn't spoil the game itself.
I've resigned myself to never being able to collect all the bananas on each of each level's stages (called 'phases' here). There are so many of them that even though it looks like there is a clear path you can get your gorilla to bounce through, it needs pixel perfect control and lots of knowledge of the layout so you can be in the right position for what's coming up.
That needs an insane amount of replays, and that's not a simple thing to do. While you do get to choose the level you can start on, the phases inside each level need to be played through in order. Which means that if you want to try phase five of level 2 again (to practice banana catching and trying to avoid hitting the obstacles) you need to play through the preceding phases. This does help the game last longer, but at the expense of providing some frustration to the end user.
With eight full levels to get through, there's a lot of arcade action here. There is a bit of platforming style action - although the gorilla will always land on the gondola, the gondola needs to be navigated through the terrain, and of course you need to jump and pound to get as many bananas as possible. The Electric Pixel Factory have created an intriguing title here, and one that I think you should all try out. It's not without fault, but those faults are minimal and don't spoil an intriguing debut from the UK based team.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at