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DynamoKid Touch

Canabalt provided the perfect set-up for its mysterious main character’s escape from a war-torn city overtaken by aliens. It made incredible use of a minimal 8-bit graphic scheme complemented by grey-scale to emphasize the game’s simplistic nature. At the same time, it provided an incredibly addictive experience which kept you guessing with randomly generated obstacles. The game’s greatest asset was in its limitations. A simple tap anywhere on the screen sent the character sprawling into the air, soaring over falling debris, attempting to make it onto the next obstacle.

Orange Pixel’s DynamoKid Touch attempts to emulate Canabalt’s success, but it comes up short on almost every count. The backdrop for each stage represents lined notebook paper with the outlines of objects in the background. In order to bring color to the world, you’re tasked with collecting stars spread throughout each stage. With a single life, you’re presented with various obstacles to overcome, such as falling and shifting platforms, incoming boulders to tap clear from the path, characters referred to as “hatmen” which can either be stomped or juggled in the air through repeated tapping, projectile-launching air balloons, and constant lines of invisible blocks which must be brushed in with your finger.

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While DynamoKid Touch might not be a viable contender against Canabalt, it does attempt to replicate the game’s platforming segments. Everything winds up being far more difficult than the cute, stylized graphics are letting on, providing something of a challenge for even the most seasoned genre veterans. DynamoKid will only jump after you’ve tapped the screen directly above his head. This wouldn’t be unreasonable if precluded from all of the other demands, but it often feels unresponsive and difficult to multi-task between brushing in an oncoming line of bricks, juggling a “hatman“, and navigating DynamoKid safely onto the following obstacle.

The game’s personality comes through eventually, as you restore color to the world. Accomplishing that, it’s all too likely that DynamoKid falls victim to an increasing number of enemies, before you‘re able to complete the stage. It doesn’t help matters that the hit detection isn’t very accurate. You’ll be sliding your finger along DynamoKid’s head, carefully timing the jump so you’ll land on a “hatman”, only to be propelled right back into the air, apparently colliding with some enemy who was off-screen when you started the jump. That guessing game never quite lives up to the thrill of accurately timing a jump in Canabalt, sending the character rolling through an office building’s window, the glass shattering upon impact.

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DynamoKid Touch features leader boards, as well as a “RumbleX” achievement system, providing a hub for a random assortment of games you’ve never heard of and have no plans to play. Although it’s not mandatory to upload achievements, they’re still there, and I found it completely ruined the pace of the game when the achievements popped up mid-level. Every time I received one, DynamoKid stopped responding to tap commands and ran off the nearest ledge. That’s not fun for anyone. Otherwise, the presentation values are limited to chirping sound effects. If it’s any consolation, there are active leaderboards with the option to upload automatically or manually from the main menu.

DynamoKid Touch might’ve been a more polished 2D platform game had it allowed for the type of precision it frequently demands. In its current state, it’s stuck in a balancing act between wanting to play by Canabalt’s minimal rule-set and focusing on the player’s interaction with the environment. While not totally devoid of value, there are already more interesting imitations on the platform. I’d recommend checking out Tomena Sanner, if you’re looking for a genuinely funny, unique take on Canabalt’s “single-button” gameplay. Unless DynamoKid Touch has some drastic updates down the line, there isn’t any compelling reason to download it.

Review based on version 2.1.0

4 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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