Like most games that cause a big splash, Tiny Wings has had many imitators, and Hoppetee! ($0.99) is one of the best by far, possibly even outshining its mentor. The main character certainly has the personality the Tiny Wings’ bird lacks. His laugh is infectious, and the music in the game is quite cool. However, it really drives home why infinite-motion-themed games can be both addictive and quickly repetitive. To its credit, however, Hoppetee has employed some traits of more traditional infinite runners that help it rise above its peers.
You play a grasshopper with a jumping deficiency, but thanks to a ball you find in the woods, you can suddenly fly higher than all of your friends. Really, though, the game is just about enjoying yourself and having fun before the lights go out. Along the way, you’ll gather musical notes that fill a staff, which eventually puts you into fever mode where the music gets more energetic and the bonuses are greater. The notes also allow you to buy special plants that will help you soar into the air and earn more bonuses, and they might even help you complete some of the missions you are presented with at the beginning of each run. Completing missions also helps you earn new balls, though I haven’t quite been able to tell if they make any difference to gameplay or not.
The other important factor is fireflies. You can have as many as three circling around you at a time, and they are imperative for you to stay running at night. Should all the fireflies fade away, you can opt to buy more for 300 notes or simply end your run and start again. Of course you can always catch more throughout the night if you time your jumps right. Holding down on the screen puts Hoppetee in run mode; letting go causes him to jump. I like the fact that you can choose up to three bonus flower power ups at the beginning of each run, as long as you have a sufficient amount of musical notes. I also like the fact that there are mushrooms you can bounce on to get more air and patches of water that slow you down, so it feels more like a traditional runner than a simple Tiny Wings clone. The game does support Game Center for leaderboards, but the missions aren’t tied to achievements in any way and there are no separate achievements at this point.
The visuals in Hoppetee are quite enticing. The backgrounds are nicely drawn with loads of details, like tufts of grass rustling when you roll through them or water spraying up behind as you race over some water, not to mention, the main character is just plain cute. If there was such a thing as mascots in video games any more, he’d definitely be one. The sound effects as a whole are decent, but the star of the vocal show is the grasshopper’s laugh. If you can listen to it without smiling, than you’ve lost the kid inside of you. The music is great too, ranging from sad and reflective to high octane and fun.
While I stand by what I said at the beginning of the review, the more I play Hoppetee the more I really enjoy it. That’s the reason I keep playing a game even while I’m doing the write-up for it. I still contend it could use some more variety in the types of missions you have to complete, and the game really won’t win any awards for originality, but it’s a solid entry in a vastly overcrowded genre that fares better than most of its peers.
Overall Score: 8/10