There are plenty of games about films and, more recently, films about games. There are also a few key gaming franchises that have their roots in books and, almost to return the favour, some books have began to further the story told in games in literary prequels or sequels. If that wasn't confusing enough, there are also games that like to tell a story almost as much as they do offer gameplay. Games like Armado.
Its story plays out almost like a fable, with beautifully illustrated and narrated episodes sandwiching the levels, telling the tale of Armado the armadillo in his fight against invading giant insects – the kind of monstrosities you could, quite ironically, find in a 1950s B movie. While these nuggets of narrative are somewhat delightful, they don't hide the fact that the minutes of gameplay that surround them are numbing.
Roll, jump, roll, jump, roll, jump: this is pretty much Armado's language. During his mission to beat back his buggy foes, you roll up and down anthills to drop off eggs in the nests that reside at the top. Along the way, you also jump over gaps in the track and on top of approaching giant ants and other beasties that patrol the route. Movement –either backwards or forwards – is handled using the accelerometer, while jumping merely requires a tap (or double tap, if a double jump is required) on the screen.
But simplicity can't hide banality. Your main job while navigating your way around the game's hills is to collect gem stones that litter the path. These gem stones come in a variety of colours, each one adding to your score. Time is also an issue, though somewhat generous at least initially. A time limit on each level encourages you to either climb or descend the hill at pace, rolling with more speed depending on how far you tip your phone either forwards or backwards.
Taking to the air is an important facet of play, too. A timely jump will rid you of any insects that chase you, literally squishing them and forcing them off the edge of the track. Additionally, it's the only way of bypassing chasms and rocks that impede your way. Combining these two elements – speed and jumping – is the key to success.
It's very easy to lose lives as you move forward, but it isn't always your fault. If you happen to fall down a gap in the path, the game automatically (and rather quickly) plonks you back right at the edge of the gap. So quickly, in fact, that often you're still tipping the phone forwards, causing you to roll straight off the edge again, losing yet another life. Even if you manage to make the jump, landing often proves a hazard, with Armado bouncing back up when he hits the ground.
All that aside, even this quickening of the pace can't lift Armado from its mostly sterile base. This has to be the bottom line, even though Tricky Software has undoubtedly come up with a product of some quality. The overall end result, however, lacks much real spark and it's therefore hard to recommend it without considerable reservation.