It's said that simple ideas are often the best, and that seems to be an adage Digital Chocolate is currently using to its advantage.
You see, while other mobile game publishers clamour to make visually more impressive, feature-packed games, DC is keeping it simple and delivering games that'd give Tetris a run for its money in terms of addictiveness. Its recent Tornado Mania 3D, for instance, was a joyfest of a one-button game. And even if Bumper Car City doesn't match it for long-term thrills, it nevertheless shares the publisher's current game mechanic philosophy. Both titles are perfectly suited to mobile phones and more playable than the majority of more complex alternatives.
Following in the footsteps of the above two examples is Kamikaze Robots. The game is set in a distant future where powerful, sophisticated machines build their own mechanical giants to bounce down hills for entertainment. It'd almost be a sad, bleak thought if the kamikaze robots in question weren't so cute, and if bouncing them down hills wasn't so much fun.
You start the game as the most basic of droids. Like each of the subsequent 28 races, the first begins with you perched at the top of a jagged, bumpy hill, where a large mechanical foot kicks your bot's bot. Your avatar then begins to tumble down the hill, spinning as he does so. Your job consists of making sure his feet always hit the ground when he lands. That's because landing on any other body part damages your robot and if he explodes before you've reached the finish line, you'll lose the race.
As you fall, you automatically spin clockwise. The only button used in the game reverses the spinning, enabling you to try and line up each bounce.
Which isn't quite as easy as it sounds. The more you allow your robot to spin, the more speed he picks up and the longer the subsequent bounce. So it's important to get the timing and flow right. Landing on the robot's back foot will slow him down, while landing flat on both feet sends him straight up, so to get down the hill the quickest, you need to propel him forwards the best you can.
As mentioned, failing to land cat-like leads to damage. Your robot's four limbs will begin to loosen, then fall off. They actually work loose even when you do land properly, but it takes longer. Once your robot is reduced to a body and head, it's almost game over.
Almost, but not quite, because those kamikaze robots have one final trick up the sleeves they lost further up the hill. Upon landing for the last time without limbs, then, your robots head will fly off and – if you angled the landing right – go rocketing in the direction of the finish line. If the head crosses it before the other robots, you can still win. In fact, deliberately wrecking your robot for a speedy finish is sometimes a good tactic to use.
If all of this wasn't enough – and, believe us, you'll be hooked within minutes – there's an additional element in the form of chips you can win. Four are available per race, awarded for finishing first and also for completing a requisite number of spins in one jump, reaching a minimum required height and covering a certain amount of ground.
The chips begin as an added extra – traded in after each event for extra stamina, spin, jump and explosive skills – but soon become vital in order to progress. Luckily, you can go back to previous races to win additional chips so as to boost your bot's abilities and successfully take on the harder opponents.
Robot bouncing turns out to be incredibly addictive, not to mention beautifully quirky and original. It helps, too, that the game's physics model almost always feels spot on.
The 29 races don't take too long to complete – especially when you can easily be absorbed by the game for three hours straight – but there's plenty more than just the Tournament mode to keep you occupied. The Quick Play race enables up to four players to compete against one another's ghost robots, and there's even an online leaderboard offering new scores to beat.
Who'd have thought robots pushing one another down steep hills would prove this much fun? Sure, we love droids, but we never saw this one coming. Give it a go – you'll lose hours of your life and thank the game for every minute.