The torrent of endless runners flooding the App Store is never ending. Like an indefinite rainy season in the tropics, they keep falling from the sky. But occasionally, among the identical specs of rain hitting your iPhone screen, you'll find something unique. Little Amazon hopes to be a snowflake among raindrops in the App Store rainforest. Will this game land on your screen with fractal beauty or a splat to be swiped away? Let's have a look shall we?
Little Amazon functions a lot like the other endless running games out there. You essentially have one randomly generated stage where you strive desperately to make it as far as you can while collecting every coin and power-up in sight. Little Amazon takes what has been done before and, well, does it again. But not without a little twist of digital citrus to liven up the cocktail. If the formula isn't broken, it'll still let you have a good time.
The graphical style looks reminiscent of Jetpack Joyride with a bobble head for a main character. The level you'll be repeating over and over ad infinitum looks sharp and cartoony in the best way. It has just enough depth to draw you in, but not so much to be distracting. Another holdover from Jetpack Joyride are some of the enemies. Purplish blobs move up and down on what look like the Joyride laser apparatus, and there are homing missile-like blobs that shoot from off screen with a warning wail.
Similar to Ronin, Little Amazon gets an upgrade system. The tiny hero has a set of enhanceable abilities to make traversing farther and farther through the forest that much easier. You can update your little willow-whispy type buddy to help you out when you fall. Your jumps can go higher and farther. Even your attacks can be swapped out and upgraded. You'll need to collect as many coins as you can to afford some of them, or you can just buy coins. But what lazy gamer does that? Thankfully, dedication can circumvent a dip in your wallet to progress through the game.
A story in endless running games is usually tossed in with no care or consideration. You're usually treated to an short info dump right at the beginning, then the story hides its tail between its legs and leaves you alone to be mauled by gorillas. Little Amazon takes a more interesting approach to letting its story unfold. Instead of the word dump, you're treated to a series of conversations between Lily and her little sprite Splash. An evil has befallen the forest and you have to save it. It is refreshing to get a break for some witty dialogue in-between runs through the forest. What is even more inspiring is that the level changes subtly with each advancing chapter. Just a few design choices here an there, but it is great to feel a sense of progression in an endless running game.
Now, it seems that Little Amazon is receiving some due praise, and it is deserved, but the game makes one severe mistake.
Ads. Of the pop-up variety.
Nothing pulls you from the dreamlike trance of running through a jungle more than an intrusive advertisement hocking dandruff shampoo. It is understandable that a developer needs to make money off of the game that they've released for free. They have small banner ads under the menu's that are perfectly acceptable. Plus, there is a bevy of in-app purchases to fill the coffers. But full screen pop-ups that require you to tap closed? NOPE. Thankfully though, they are few and far between, and do not interrupt actual gameplay. They instead pop up between your failed run and the results board. It isn't a heinous annoyance, but simply inserts a speed bump on your journey of endless running enjoyment. The forest must be saved and we have no time for shampoo or Vegas Bingo!
With the exception of the occasional pop-up ad, Little Amazon is a charming endless runner that will provide you with a few hours of enjoyment. While it doesn't offer much innovation in gameplay, it would have benefited from gesture-based controls rather than virtual buttons. It does provide a clever twist of narrative integration into the endless runner style which is nice. Is it a snowflake amongst raindrops? No, more like slush than anything else. But even a slushy has some decent flavor. I'm partial to blue raspberry myself.