Mars Mountain - More attitude, less altitude
| Mars Mountain

Mars Mountain proudly wears its Q*bert influences on its spandex-crafted sleeve.

You've got a 3D pyramid filled with obstacles. Two directional control as you climb down endless cubes, and even the sound effects are a fitting tribute to the tangerine-coated Snuffaluffagus

Sadly, however, it lacks the same charm, and even adds to the genre's existing frustrations.

But it's set on Mars. A mountain on Mars, even

I know, and normally that would make everything okay. because fire-breathing aliens crawling on zero gravity mountains is obviously a recipe for excellence.

Just not this time.

You play Bucky - his name's not really Bucky, but that would be my astronaut name so I don't care - after his ship crash lands on the mountain's summit.

The aim is to collect canisters to repair your ship, and rejoin the rest of your buddies in Apollo 741.

Bucky can also collect stars which are used to purchase different characters. The change is purely cosmetic, though each unlock does come accompanied by a new annoying sound effect, like a skull that sounds like a clucking hen.

Unlike Q*Bert, you don't need to change the colour of the cubes in order to earn points or beat a level. Actually, the mountain is procedurally generated and never-ending.

The whole purpose of Mars Mountain is to go down as far as you can, avoiding projectiles and traps while earning the highest possible score.

The main issue is that the balance of each map is almost always utterly unfair. You manage to avoid a set of spikes, but jump straight into an incoming fireball.

You can also get yourself completely trapped and have no choice but to accept defeat and start over.

You'll also realise that some maps only have one safe-ish route. Try to go any other way, and death is an absolute certainty. With no way to climb back up, frustration and tedium quickly starts to set in.

The problem is, because there are so many enemies and obstacles to face, the timing almost always feels off. There's always a good chance of you colliding into something within a few steps.

Telling mountains

It's very telling that - as of writing - the top score in Mars Mountain is a measly 101 points out of over 20,000 players.

It also doesn't help that you can easily glitch yourself on one of the game's many conveyor belts, leaving your character stuck in limbo.

Mars Mountain even glitches if you click on one of the regular pop-in ads, necessitating force-closure of the app. Which is a little bit embarrassing.

It's a very eye-catching game, though, and the soundtrack will get stuck in your head for weeks, for better or worse.

On top of that, Mars Mountain is actually very replayable, and can be enjoyable when you're not being overwhelmed by its ambitious direction.

However, with often poor enemy placement, and regular mistimed circumstances, it won't be long before you scrap it altogether and look for a slightly more satisfying alternative.

Mars Mountain - More attitude, less altitude

Mars Mountain can be enjoyable, but sabotages itself with an unbalanced difficulty curve and poorly identified glitches
Ray Willmott
Ray Willmott
When not objecting to witnesses in Phoenix Wright or gushing over Monkey Island, Ray does social things for Steel Media. He also pretends to look like Han Solo in his profile picture.