Axl and Tuna is a new game from the creators of the excellent Bobo Explores Light — one of the first interactive books/apps I got my daughter to play with on my first iPad, and the winner of many awards too — including an Apple Design Award. Sadly, this new game does away with any kind of learning potential and instead concentrates on just being a fun casual game with no in-app purchases or annoying ads to get in the way. Happily, it also keeps the sense of whimsical fun, the same crisp graphical style and the fluid animations — all backed by sophisticated physics modelling and behavioural systems — that made Bobo such fun to play.
The titular Axl is a one-wheeled robot who rolls endlessly down a roller coaster track, avoiding obstacles, picking up coins and bonuses, and collecting lost “Fuzzbots” along the way. His friend/nemesis is Tuna, a bird made from an old Tuna can who causes mischief for Axl on his journey. Controlling Axl is super simple — tap the screen to make him jump, swipe up for more airtime and swipe down to land quicker. Whilst airborne tap and hold on the left or right to spin Axl forwards or backwards and gain some extra style points, just be sure to land him on his wheel or it’s game over.
That’s pretty much it, but where the game differs from the likes of Flappy Bird or Jetpack Joyride is the fact that the track you race down is different each day — and not “randomly generated” different either, as everybody in the world will race the same track for that whole day. This means that hopefully the “Hall of Fame” won’t be constantly filled with the same names with unbeatable high scores — everyone can start fresh with each new day. I even managed to have “world record” briefly the other day. Alright, so the game wasn’t actually released at that point and there was only one other person playing it, but still, shut up!
The illustrations are very cute, from the star of the game right down to the robots he encounters along the tracks — which you can collect like Pokemon once you’ve bounced on their heads! The animations, of both the characters and the camera zooms, are wonderfully smooth, with motion and depth of field blurring adding the feel of the game but not distracting you from the action. There are some nice humorous touches too when you die with text flowing across the screen saying things like “Hasta la vista, baby” and “Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, good-byee!” My one criticism would be the music and sound effects. For a game that’s meant to be played over and over, it can get grating quite quickly — especially the crowd cheering and clapping — but turn it down (or off in the settings menu) and it’s longer an issue, leaving you free to are down the track again and again.
Thanks to Jaraj at Game Collage for the preview code for Axl and Tuna, which is available in the App Store from today.