Hill Bill starts off on a pretty good note thanks to its standout moniker. Is this app a David Carradine inspired mountain climber? Is it a hillbilly shooter? It's actually neither, but you are given ample opportunity to do some Evel Kneivel acrobatics with a motorcycle. Are these tricks good enough to keep Hill Bill up in mid-air, above a wave of iOS mediocrity?
Although a gas icon is touched to accelerate the bike, Hill Bill's main control mechanic is slide and swipe based. Timing is the main skill needed for the app, as you will consistently die if you ride on a ramp without choosing your specific jump manuever. Whether you're performing a motorbike skitch, a high flying superman jump, or a wheelie, try to prepare your jumps in good time. As you progress during the levels, certain stunts can be performed mid-air to net earn you more stars, but the initial goal is to survive your jumps. In case you're wondering, my Hill Bill didn't survive momentary jolt of elation.
Hill Bill's strongest feature is its cartoon strip inspired look which, though not flashy, are entirely pleasing to the eye. I usually skip over cut scenes between stages, but since the jumps cover a huge amount of ground, the scenes give us a cinematic lay of the land before we start the challenge. Whether it's a lingering shot of a couple of folks building a ramp, or a quick peek at all the swamp dwellers who serve as our captive audience, these images stick long after the game is over.
This bike ride's major flaw is a near deal breaker. By swiping my fingers and touching the gas icon before I hit the ramp, there's just too many movements needed to complete the perfect jump. Although a certain difficulty factor is always appreciated, complexity should always be coupled with an organic and invigorating sense of play. Whether it's an endless runner or a tried and true platformer, dying is easy business and the only thing that will keep up us coming back for more lies on the title's addictive nature.
Thinking how my fingers should slide or how far I should move my finger to the left to keep my bike at a distance are all necessary movements, but I just found myself thinking way too much for a title that should give us a liberating experience. Bike flying through a swamp or a couple of Winnebagos should make our hearts race, and not boggle our minds. So even with all the neat visuals, Hill Bill often left me stuck on the ground, as I drove my back to nowheresville.
Although you can purchase a couple of other bikes and outfits as you earn more cash throughout the game, this feature also doesn't have the required bells and whistles that most titles employ. I may have jumped over enough ramps to save up for my Orange Crush, and it is a cute bike, but honestly for a $1.99 purchase I totally expected a bit more flashiness thrown into the mix. Tricked up motorcycles that shoot flames or even snazzy clothing to save up for would have made Hill Bill a bit more pleasurable to play. But just take a look at these three bikes -- do you want to spend time buying these drab looking rides?
Hill Bill is not exactly a disastrous experience. It's like that person in the party you just couldn't remember, or the faceless friend you left off your wedding list. You won't be offended playing Hill Bill, but other than a few interesting visual moments, you're not going to be thrilled either. If I wanted to be bored, I'd stop playing my iPad games and start living out my humdrum life. Hill Bill should have kept me leaping towards new horizons, but unfortunately, the only thing it's jumping is the proverbial shark.