"Oh good, this is one of those games," I thought to myself happily as I started up Marcus Eckert's Wide Sky on my iPod Touch. The gorgeous, somewhat melancholy music and stark, four-color imagery suggested that this would be one of those charming little independent mobile games that slips into the iTunes App Store quietly and slowly takes over the world.
The feeling continued as the game's story unfolded. Here's an excerpt from the game's official description that captures the tone of the brief narrative quite nicely:
Hedgehogs are troubled spirits, and yet, they never fail to entertain the masses with their acrobatic feats. Many people don't know, however, that hedgehogs aren't born this way. Hedgehogs need to be trained and molded into the tiny, fiscally responsible acrobats we know and love.
At that point everything about Wide Sky was shouting "Love me!" in my ear. I was fully prepared to give myself to this little hedgehog twirling game. Then I played it, or I tried to play it.
Wide Sky gifted me with a hedgehog, a present that's always welcome. That hedgehog is equipped with a rope that can be extended from its body with a tap of the screen. The objective is to maneuver this hedgehog through the air, latching onto clouds with his rope in order to collect various objects and complete various tasks.
It would be delightful were the controls not so damn frustrating.
There is a point on that tiny speck of a hedgehog from which the rope originates. It's incredibly tough to determine where that point is when he's spinning through the air at full speed. The rope extends, retracts and spins with the little bastard, so controlling him with any degree of precision is an exercise in futility. The idea is to have him grab onto clouds and then use the iPod or iPhone's acceleration to generate momentum, but these controls are incredibly touchy.
I wound up relying on luck more than precision while playing through Wide Sky. There were times my rope would make perfect content, launching me gracefully towards my objective. More often than not I would wince and sigh as I hung ineffectually from a cloud, my goal just out of reach.
I want to play Wide Sky. I want to nail all of the objectives. I want to unlock the entire roster of special ropes (11 in all!). I want the narrator to address me with bemused detachment some more. I want it to be the amazing little indie game it almost is.