In Mario Kart 64, on the space superhighway Rainbow Road, there was a very specific part of the track where if you leapt off into the abyss you could land safely on a much later part of the track.
This was, of course, an unintended shortcut. An unofficial loophole. A cheat.
But in Impossible Road, an abstract ball-rolling game from Pixels on Toast, it's not just a viable strategy: it's practically the only chance you're going to have of getting a score in double digits.Difficult street
The idea of the game is to roll down an infinitely long road, which winds and curls and banks and spirals, and dips, and bumps. It's a maddeningly difficult track: think Super Monkey Ball, if masochistic Super Hexagon creator Terry Cavanagh were Sega's level designer.
But when you inevitably tumble off the track, you're given a precious few seconds in which to land on a much later and lower part of this cosmic autobahn, and keep your run going.
Being able to navigate the twists and turns of the track with the responsive two-tap controls is one thing. Being able to leap from layer to layer without bouncing off into the abyss is another.Challenging boulevard
You are, of course, at the whim of the randomly generated highway, and if there's no track beneath you to land on you're out of luck. You'll also have to contend with an erratic bounce and an uncomfortably close camera.
But, as with Hexagon, you're never more than a tap away from trying again when you fail. Which makes Impossible Road a compulsive, just-one-more-go habit. Combine that with Game Center leaderboards and this will be lodged on your Home screen.
This game has a staggeringly minimalist art style, and there's not a single superfluous pixel on show. Though (and this might break the stark atmosphere completely, I'll admit) it might be nice to see your friends' best times on the track, as in Jetpack Joyride and the like.
It also has an urgent drumbeat soundtrack, which mimics what your heart will be doing as you pass gate number 20.Formidable promenade
Impossible Road is, as the name might suggest, difficult. And if you usually avoid games that beat you over the head with failure until you finally manage to crawl your way up their steep learning curve on bloodied stumps then, by all means, skip it.
But if you like a challenge, and you like climbing leaderboards, and you like getting in scrappy score disputes with friends, then roll with it.
Want more? Check out our growing collection of Impossible Road articles!