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Flight Doodle HD

Score: 76%
ESRB: 4+
Publisher: Eyedip
Developer: Eyedip
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Arcade/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

If you're looking for curb appeal, seek no further. Flight Doodle HD has got things nailed in this category, with a design style that looks hand-drawn and a title menu you can doodle on, or erase. The backdrops change each time you play, and feature simple but attractive elements that consistently look like the work of an animator working on a piece of paper, rather than something spit out of a polygon machine. Nice little touches abound, including our favorite that shows ghostly images of where other players reached their high water marks. Floating a balloon up and up and up is hard work, so you might as well feel good about what you're flying, right? Flight Doodle HD lets you draw and color a balloon that perfectly fits your style and mood, or import a picture from your iPad photo library. Once you import the picture, you can shrink or enlarge it, and move it around until it sits at exactly the right angle. You can also do some coloring around the image, to make things look just perfect. A gallery of custom balloons means you can choose a different balloon each time you launch, and also means you'll leave an indelible mark for others to see... as they pass you on their way up to greater heights. You can also select from different graphics to represent the enemies that fall down on your from above. The music consists of five different tracks you can select from (but not put on any set rotation) that are nice and relaxing, complemented by in-game sounds like the thrumming airplane engine that signals you'll soon get some special drop. The sound you'll hear most often, regrettably, is the popping of your balloon by one of the constantly falling thumbtacks. In Flight Doodle HD, as in life, what goes up must also come down.


Yes, rising balloons and falling thumbtacks should tip you off to the fact that there's plenty of whimsy in Flight Doodle HD. It's a game with a simple premise, but it delivers good, solid fun. OpenFeint integration means you can share online status, high scores, and other tidbits with friends that also belong to the OpenFeint network. You can also do neat things like view your scores on a map of others in your area that have also done well in the game. This helps you build your friend list for future challenges in Flight Doodle HD or other games on the network, as does the option to tie Flight Doodle HD to your Facebook or Twitter account. The OpenFeint dashboard also shows you special achievement earned in Flight Doodle HD, some with hilarious names like "Reindeer Thug," awarded mostly for new high scores. These games are very much about social networking, something you can share with friends in a social space even if you aren't doing any true multiplayer gameplay. The idea of leaving a challenge for a friend to pick up later is a bragging-rights thing, and of course it's fun to see what kind of customization friends do with their balloons. This so-called "Customize Your Craft" mode is a hoot, especially because of how simple it becomes to import and edit images. There are a few stock balloons available for the design-challenged, but the editor makes even those with two left thumbs seem coordinated.

The actual playtime in Flight Doodle HD is spent tilting the iPad from left to right, avoiding obstacles (or "enemies" as they're referred to in the game) as they fall from the sky. By default these take the form of thumbtacks, but can be customized. The net result, regardless of any customization, is that these falling items will leave you feeling deflated. Okay, they'll pop your balloon... It's a grisly way to meet your end in an otherwise cheery game, right? Objects not falling are generally just making your life more difficult, slowing you down or obstructing your progress. One dude even drops rocks on you before jumping to his own demise, which is somehow good for a laugh amidst the tense action. "Tense," because this isn't really a game you'll play casually; it requires some moderate twitch reflexes to master. As you progress up the screen, you'll get drops from a friendly plane, providing on-demand resources for avoiding or deflecting enemies. These are great in theory, but they require yet another point of control to coordinate during the action.


Flight Doodle HD is a fun game if you feel in command of your reflexes, but there's no "dummy" mode. Ideally, we'd have something that creates wider spacing of enemies. The close patterns of enemies dropping really makes for some impossible situations, unless you've got just the right item stocked and ready to go. We found using the items challenging, since the iPad isn't exactly a dainty little flower. Holding up a couple of pounds and tilting from side to side just about takes two hands, so keeping one finger poised at the side of the screen to activate a special ability is tricky. Some abilities are better than others, such as the Shrink (awesome) power that makes your craft tiny while activated and the Slow (stale) power that pulls a "bullet-time" out to help you get out of the way of oncoming doom. The expression we reached for in that last sentence was actually "imminent doom," because it feels more appropriate. Much like the deadly corner position in Galaga, there are just some times in Flight Doodle HD when you are totally stuffed, no matter what you do. It becomes easier and easier to find yourself in these situations as the game progresses, but you also learn to seek out and gather those special items and drops. At least one of the drops sends you hurtling up, making it easier to rack up big points without really trying. Apart from these "gift" moments, Flight Doodle HD is a pretty darned challenging experience.

Game Mechanics:

Several thoughtful settings in the Options menu make Flight Doodle HD more accessible across a wide audience. Adjusting sensitivity is a key piece of making the game fit your playing style. You'll find that dialing up the sensitivity helps you avoid falling enemies, as long as you have the reflexes to back up that quick response. Players that feel they are constantly juggling the iPad to make their balloon go the proper direction may want to dial the sensitivity down a notch... Custom tilt settings let you alternate between the intuitive tilting most people will want and an alternative mode that sends the balloon right when you tilt left. If you think of tilting as directing the top of the balloon, the default mode makes sense. If you think of the way a balloon moves, with air blowing under it, the alternate tilting isn't all that unintuitive. Either way, it's nice to have options. We've already addressed the simplicity of the editor, and the gameplay doesn't get much simpler than this. It's funny that on a device touted for its touch-screen capabilities, there's not much in the way of touch controls for Flight Doodle HD. Using special items requires some tapping and holding at the side of the screen, but you can rack up nice scores without ever touching a single item.

The biggest objection we have with Flight Doodle HD is that it doesn't run very deep. Looking at the proliferation of games in Apple's App Store, many of them not in the least fun, we do have to give Flight Doodle HD props for being instantly playable and fun. If you're only interested in a bit of distraction with cool packaging and a neat demonstration of the motion technology embedded in the iPad, give Flight Doodle HD a whirl. It contains some nice features and solid gameplay. Behind the rather simple gameplay is a fun experience that will keep nimble hands busy.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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