05/06/2020

๐Ÿ”️๐Ÿš— Hill Climbing Mania | Nintendo Switch | Review | *A mountain I couldn’t bring myself to climb* ๐Ÿ”️๐Ÿš— #IndieGames #GameDev

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A mobile port to the Switch, Hill Climbing Mania makes no bones about its similarities to Fingersoft’s 2012 title, Hill Climb Racing.

Whilst this is a ‘snack’ genre that I have had a lot of fun with on mobile platforms, InLogic’s title has too many issues for it to be a recommended purchase.

I’ll start with the more positive aspects, the 2D visuals, whilst undemanding, are crisp and neat, the frame-rate is pretty solid and the inherent fun of bouncing over hills and upgrading your car is here, albeit buried under some problematic areas that really feel like they could have been avoided with just a few tweaks. 

Hill Climbing Mania is a very barebones game. There are no settings to be adjusted and so the music (generic, instrumental guitar rock) can’t be lowered or muted and the buttons can’t be remapped.
This, in particular, isn’t too troublesome, as in-game, you’ll only need the left and right buttons on the D-Pad. Whereas in other games of a similar vein, this controls the pull of the engine and thus wheels, in Hill Climbing Mania, it feels like it controls the weight of your vehicle, this means that quite often you’ll find yourself in a situation where you just want to reverse slightly to get a run-up for a hill or jump but you just sort of rock back and forth as your petrol gauge goes down, leading to a restart of the level, it’s a very unsatisfying feeling that along with other niggles like the car floating just above the track at certain points and levitating/misaligned trees and foliage make the game come across as unfinished.

The game is split into bite-sized levels which are tackled in a linear order, collecting coins and stars to raise enough cash to power up your car and unlock others. There’s an element of grinding here in that you’ll come to a point where your car physically cannot progress and so you replay earlier stages to rack up the cash.
This is actually quite fun as they are made far breezier with your souped-up automobile and you can throw in some flips and air-time to get extra money. The real problems arrive when your car is fully capable of proceeding but the gameplay itself is the biggest mountain to climb.

I was constantly getting stuck on rocks and more angular terrain but as mentioned above, instead of being able to just try again by backing up and taking a different approach, the weightlessness of the game and controls just had me rocking back and forth. When I was further into the levels, it was more by luck that I was getting past things and it wasn’t satisfying as the ‘feel’ the genre needs just wasn’t there, making every stage feel like a war of attrition.
Hill Climbing Mania is so close to being a fun game, if the car physics had been tweaked to give the player a better sense of weight and control, the other, smaller issues would melt away in the fun.

As it is though, they all mount up and make this game a hard one to stick with.
๐Ÿ’ง RATING: MELTED ๐Ÿ’ง

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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