Video game history is strewn with the corpses of misguided animals attempting to cross roads. Now we shoot, stab and punch things, but back in the day we stood on pavements, psyched ourselves up and did our level best to dodge traffic. That was enough in those days.
It's still enough now.
Crossy Road is a game about an animal crossing a road. I've been playing it all morning instead of doing work. The only reason I'm not playing it right now is because I decided to mix business and pleasure and write it as justification for all the time I'm spending with it. This will be a short post. I have more Crossy Road to play.
Crossy Road follows in the footsteps of games like Frogger or Horace Goes Skiing in that you have to cross a road. But it's the controls that are interesting. As an iOS, touchscreen game, the controls are simple, accessible and responsive. Tap the screen to move forward, swipe left or right to move horizontally. So far so basic, but what separates Crossy Road from its predecessors is the pace of it. Most 'crossing the road simulators', for want of a better phrase, are very twitchy. You play these games in a constant state of panic. Crossy Road has a slower pace and success requires a little more calculation. I think that's why I'm enjoying it so much — that and the consistency of the 'lanes'. Each tap takes you into a new space. You are aware of where you are and your position relative to all the things that are trying squash/murder/drown you. This is very rewarding and reassuring.
"I really like your game," I said to Matthew Hall who, alongside Andrew Sum, created the game. "But I don't know why."
"Session length," he replied. Deadpan.
In a certain sense he's right. Crossy Road has that 'one more go' factor and that's a result of — yes — session length and how quickly one can move from death to brand new game. But man, I've played a lot of games that had that 'one more go' feeling that I was consciously not enjoying. Ridiculous Fishing is one that springs to mind: a game that felt like an endless series of number traps that I somehow kept falling into. Bad traps, like bear traps. Not good traps, like Crossy Road has, which are more about the sheer pleasure of bopping your little chicken across an endless road than it is about the random accumulation of in-game currency. Crossy Road is just good. It's actually just good.
It's a throwback to the kind of mobile games we were playing when mobile games sort of first became a 'thing'. Its like a Doodle Jump or a Flight Control. It's just simple and it's just fun.
I like a lot of things about Crossy Road. I like its Minecraft inspired pixel art. I like that the game is called 'Crossy Road' as a kind of homage to 'Flappy Bird' — in the way that all iOS games had a 'doodle' in the title for a while after Doodle Jump, or the way that every game had 'birds' as protagonists after Angry Birds. But most of all I love the polish of a simple idea well executed.
Okay fine. I wrote something. I did some work. Everyone leave me alone. I'm going to play Crossy Road again.
Crossy Road is out on iOS, with an Android version coming soon.