River Blast from Gyco Productions has an accurate title. It's a blast to play and all for just $2. I really wasn't expecting much when I purchased it as the Android Market can be so hit and miss. Panzer Panic was the last game to make this kind of impression on me. And I'm not a big fan of race games, but I can be sold on them if some extra little twist is thrown in. For example, I wasn't much of a Need For Speed fan, but add being chased by cops that go as far as setting up blockades to stop me and suddenly racing becomes quite the rush. River Blast on the other hand can actually be relaxing... and frustrating... at the same time.
First things first, River Blast is a kayak racing game that offers 3 regions (plains, arctic, and rocky) with 5 rivers in each. I've been playing a lot since yesterday and I finally completed the first 'plains' river this afternoon. Once you get the hang of it things move quicker... I finished the first 'rocky' river shortly thereafter. What makes this game so cool is a combination of the tranquil sound, the great controls, the nifty rivers, and the global leader boards. The sound of paddling a kayak is great. With every paddle you hear the woosh of water. It's quite beautiful. The controls are where the game really shines... simply drag on the left side to use the left paddle and on the right side to use the right paddle. You can even drag backwards to paddle backwards. And there's no reward for furiously paddling away. This isn't a twitch fest. In fact, you're rewarded for nice, long, powerful strokes instead of quick ones and the instructions clearly spell this out (but with the typical game rewarding players for hammering away as quickly as possible that actually takes some getting use to). As stated it took me a day to get past the first river and get that concept through my head. Fortunately, while struggling away with failure you can turn off the timer and play in "Chill Mode" where you can paddle around wherever you want to your heart's content without fear of "Game Over". You can't advance to the next river in chill mode, but it was quite useful for practicing. Next, the rivers... each one is different. You might be paddling with the current or against it. Along the way there are various obstacles such as logs floating down the river, small islands, and even rapids to travel over that give you a speed boost. There are also checkpoints that give you extra time if you pass through them. And throughout this you'll be competing on a global scale which isn't anything new, but it's nice that this game includes that option. I'm using my real name of "Alan" on them if you want to see how well you can do against me.
I can't quite put my finger on what makes such a simple game so pleasing... it's just how well it all flows together (no pun intended). I've mentioned a few times how good audio really backs up a good game. Include some mesmerizing music and suddenly game play becomes more enjoyable... kind of like listing to music at work to make a job more palatable. The only flaw in the game I found... and it's kind of funny... is as if the proofreading staff got bored after page 6 of the instructions. The well written rules have typos galore in them after that. And the game actually acted really odd for me on my first play... the controls didn't respond at all. I don't know or understand what happened as it's worked just fine since then with zero glitches. And today an update was released, but without any info as to what was changed/fixed so who knows if any of that was fixed. All in all though this game is a gem. Get it!