Fans of NPR are likely familiar with “Driveway Moments” — stories on All Things Considered so engaging that, despite arriving at home, you find yourself sitting in your driveway, car idling, just waiting for it to be over. Not since Angry Birds has a mobile game given me a “Train Station Moment,” trying to finish just one more round before I walk on into the office. Until now.
Epic Eric is the highly addictive, physics-based puzzle game from 232 Studios. The controls are simple; just tap the screen to get Eric to swing from place to place, sliding or bouncing where necessary, and collecting stars along the way until you rescue your princess. And, lest you think this is yet another “boy saves helpless girl” gender stereotype, take a look at the opening screen above. Simply tap the “a” and you are now Epic Erica, saving your knight from his lonely prison tower.
What makes Epic Eric so epic is its creative gameplay and excellent audio, reminiscent of the chiptunes of the ’80s like Super Mario Brothers and MegaMan 2. This is one of the few games where “Turn Background Music Off” wasn’t my first stop in the Settings menu. As for gameplay, the developers managed to hit that perfect balance of challenging and fun. I have yet to come across a round that takes more than 15-20 attempts to complete, so there is no rage quitting, yet beyond the first couple of rounds, there is seldom an instance where I finished with all three stars on the first try. The pacing is superb as well, adding new features like swinging doors and bouncy floors at just the right time to stave off boredom. If you do get tired of saving the princess (or knight) over and over, keep in mind there are over 20 “challenges” as well, such as the “Top Gun Maverick” award for flying over the princess tower whilst upside-down, and the “Chuck Norris” award for surviving a fall.