3D platform games have always been problematic for me. I was cool with Tomb Raider on PC because I could just tap the arrow keys to incrementally inch along the cliffs. When Nintendo 64 came out with their sensitive analog stick, I just couldn’t make it through Super Mario 64 without accidentally wandering off every ledge. Now they make these for tiny little cell phone screens, so imagine the sensitivity issues. Find out what game is the latest platform frustration for me.
The hero of SpinCraft is Pyp, a galactic pizza delivery boy with a spinning spaceship. Using a touchscreen directional pad, you fly Pyp along, jumping and hovering from platform to platform, spinning to attack bad guys. In each level you have to collect three gold shards to move on, but along the way you can collect coins and find lost pizza.
The controls are really awkward. It feels like the joystick is stuck, which is impossible since it’s just a simulated stick on a touch screen. When you fly forward, you don’t really go where you’re trying to go. You just sort of bobble around and maybe you end up moving forward eventually. God forbid if you have to turn around or strafe left and right. Then the camera spins all over the place so you can’t even keep your bearings.
That makes controlling Pyp annoying, and then you still have to deal with all the basic frustrations inherent to platform gaming. You can still inadvertently fly Pyp off a cliff and have to start again from the latest checkpoint. The hover is an added nuisance too. It’s designed to give you an ability to float across further distances, but the hover ends up activating and using itself up accidentally whenever you jump. You hold the jump button to hover, and with a touch screen, even a slight tap makes it think you’re holding the button down. So you end up hovering far past your goal, or using it up before you actually need it.
The graphics look pretty blocky. Even on a small screen, the shapes aren’t very detailed or articulated. The music is annoying too so you should definitely play with the sound on your device turned off.
Of course, SpinCraft wants your money as well. You can buy upgrades and costumes for Pyp in the store, but you can still play without donating real world money for new skins. Using the coins you collect in the game, you can upgrade your engine, hover and other attributes for minor improvements.
The level builds themselves are fairly elaborate. The worlds are populated with many different obstacles to Pyp’s quests. Besides jumping from platform to platform, you may need to battle bees, avoid spiked battering wheels or find the buttons to open gates. It’s just the gameplay that makes exploring these worlds frustrating.
I’ll be a little forgiving of SpinCraft given that I know I have problems with 3D platformers. But having wonky controls will frustrate anyone, even if they excel at these types of games. Hey, at least it's free.