Game Reviews

Giant Boulder of Death

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| Giant Boulder of Death
Giant Boulder of Death
| Giant Boulder of Death

If you took the Katamari series and squeezed it through an endless-runner sausage machine, the condensed product that came out of the other end would probably resemble Giant Boulder of Death.

Bar a few bits of gristle and a slightly uniform texture, the result is a surprisingly tasty iOS bratwurst.

Pass the sauerkraut

In one of many neat touches found throughout Adult Swim and PikPok's latest effort, the game's title screen displays the start of your run, with the titular rock perched precariously atop a mountain peak.

Give it a prod and it rolls off, the view pulling in behind it as you embark on an alpine rampage. You're then given partial control over your boulder, tilting your device to steer and tapping the screen to jump.

It's a pretty typical endless-runner at heart, but something about the depiction of a bumpy descent rather than the usual flat dash lends Giant Boulder of Death an unexpected and unique thrill.

There's a sense that you're never entirely in control of this gathering force at your fingertips, which is both empowering and slightly scary.

Like a rolling stone

As you make your way down the mountain, you'll encounter various elements (such as people and cows) that you can squish for points, and others that you need to avoid (in the form of the spiky red defences erected by the local army).

You can destroy everything during the brief periods of powered-up rage that your sentient boulder slips into whenever your bonus bar fills up.

As has become the norm for games of this type, you're given a constant stream of goals to reach - get this far, squish this many objects, and so on - but there's a direct pay-off that once again lifts Giant Boulder of Death above the also-rans.

When you complete these tasks, you unlock a new object or element for the mountainside, which you'll encounter in subsequent runs. As such, there's a sense that you're actively working towards a richer, more vibrant game world.

Of course, this is largely an illusion - you're still only ever squishing or avoiding stuff - but it's an effective one.

Get your rocks off

Add in a power-up system that enables you to effectively extend your time with the game, and an IAP system that doesn't frustrate with its demands or restrictions, and you have a surprisingly fresh-feeling endless-runner.

Giant Boulder of Death is undoubtedly the same kind of dodge-left, dodge-right game that we've seen far too often since the original Temple Run, and ultimately it still suffers for that familiarity.

But in pumping the experience with lots of neat touches and a vibrant, truly amusing game world (having "Game Over" repeatedly yodelled at you when you die being one example), Adult Swim and PikPok have managed to extend our run with the genre a little further.

Giant Boulder of Death

A surprisingly fresh endless-runner full of charm and humour. No real improvements to the genre formula here, though