Turtle Dash
| Turtle Dash

Anyone taking a glance at Pocket Gamer's review of free runner Canabalt might easily surmise that its only fault is a lack of complexity.

Designed to be a short and sweet experience, Semi Secret Software's smash hit is never likely to be the kind of game to totally dominate your time, however addicted you might get.

Digital Chocolate's Turtle Dash is an attempt to spin a similarly simple idea out into something far more intricate and, as a result, long-lasting.

In the end, though, all it proves is that messing with an established formula is a dangerous game.

Filling your five a day

Dangerous and, in this case, unfulfilling. The basic idea behind Canabalt's gameplay – jump over obstacles as the ground races by beneath your feet – remains intact, but Turtle Dash brings more to its arsenal than the mere ability to jump.

The game's character – a turtle out to pick up vegetables for his tea – can also unleash a burst of energy that sees him smash through objects and enemies.

It's an increasingly important trick, given Turtle Dash's stages are populated both by scores of crates and (apparently) malevolent pigs out for your blood.

In practice, however, said hogs do nothing but hover in lines, and, as with all the objects in your way, you can either choose to jump over them or blast through them.

Halfway house

It's an approach that leaves Turtle Dash as neither one thing nor the other.

Its play is too complicated to deliver the kind of pure parkour pleasure those after a free runner will be looking for, while haphazard level design means it doesn't really function as a basic platformer, either.

Digital Chocolate has tried to 'Disney-fy' the Canabalt model and turn it into the kind of franchise it can milk for all it's worth – something it's done to varying degrees of success for some time now.

The problem is, by trying to bring the cute and cuddly to Canabalt, Digital Chocolate unintentionally destroys the abstract aesthetic that gave the game its character.

It leaves Turtle Dash as a game that set out to broaden the appeal of the genre, but in the end is unlikely to be anyone's cup of tea.

Turtle Dash

Canabalt without the charm, Turtle Dash tinkers unsuccessfully with a winning formula, leaving it in an awkward middle ground
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on PG.biz, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.