Canyon Dash is one of those indie iPhone games that make me want to grab the developer and give them a talking to, as it does so many things right, yet falls at the last few hurdles, making me give it a score I really didn’t want to give.
The game is a simple mine cart game where all you have to do is select your route through a canyon brimming with traps, items and tricks. You guide your cart through the random course, dodging rocks and trying to keep on the right track, which is easier said than done as the tracks can be very complex and convoluted, and one wrong turn and it is game over, and back to the start.
You can collect gems and gold throughout your trip, adding to your total score, and also dynamite, which is extremely handy, as it allows you to clear any rocks that are strewn on the tracks with a tap of the screen. While the dynamite clears all rocks on-screen, it is worth waiting to tap the screen at the last moment, as there may be some extra rocks you can clear that appear late in the day.
I like the game. It is as simple as I have just described, and twisting your way around the tracks is fun and addictive, and the graphics are really well done, with a high level of polish. The problem is, it all feels a bit too limited, with a lot of very simple things missing that really do detract from the experience, both in terms of gameplay and content.
The first thing is the fact that the tilt control method is the only one offered. Tilting works ok, but turning the screen makes it a bit difficult to see all the action, and makes me wonder why touch controls are not offered? Two big arrows on either side of the screen, with another button for the dynamite. Just offering this up as an option would have done wonders here. Secondly, while we are on the subject of basics, there is no music. Having even a basic ‘Big Thunder Mountain’ style music track would add a lot to the overall atmosphere.
The third big thing missing here is Game Center support. The included local leaderboard is welcome, but adding online leaderboards and achievements via Game Center really should be a given for this type of game nowadays, and makes for a very easy way of adding longevity to a game.
There are other things that would seem to be easy to implement for this game. How about offering up a few different modes? One where you chase another mine cart, or a mode that is level based would both add a lot, as would some different backgrounds and stages when you get to a certain score. Individual stages in some kind of a ‘gauntlet’ mode would be great, but I’m afraid that what is here is just too barebones for me to recommend.
A case of a developer getting all the difficult stuff- gameplay, graphics, an addictive nature, spot on, yet not implementing all the potential modes and options, which is really the easy stuff. A shame, as I would score a game like this that has its potential fully realised in the high eighties.
Overall, Canyon Dash is great fun to play, but the lack of control options, music and modes really hold me back when scoring this. I like it, but I can’t in all honesty recommend this in its current form.
Shows potential, but that is all it is at the moment. I hope the developer can fulfill this potential with the next release.