Dec 15, 2015
At this point, movie companion games are not that unique anymore; they are all but expected. Even still, the reasoning beside releasing a game concurrently with a major motion picture it is derived from has plenty of merit. Fans of the movie get additional stimulation that is mostly mobile, and the tie-in value is invaluable.
Disney is perfecting the art of the mobile gaming tie-in, and continues the trend with Good Dinosaur: Dino Crossing, a game that helps frame the The Good Dinosaur, a major animated movie borne out of yet another Disney-Pixar collabo.
The game doesn’t bog itself down by trying to be an epic mobile version of the movie itself; indeed, it is all but a standalone adventure. It is presented in landscape, with bright colors and familiar animations, and makes use of visual perspective and varying speeds to wreak delightful havoc and challenge one’s reflexes.
The gameplay is infinitely simple. The player gets to control a dinosaur, just as one would expect, across a field of run-ending obstacles; running forward is accomplished by tapping on the screen. Tapping faster increases the dinos speed, and releasing stops it. Gesture swipes to the left, right and back guide the dino in the respective direction.
Our dino has to cross fields, and at first, the obstacles are fairly easy to navigate; rolling bales of hay roll in lanes in either direction, like a freely-defined highway. Darting across might work to begin with, but then one encounters “smarter” bales that encourage the player to get craftier with regards to moving around and finding the easiest means of egress. Hitting an obstacle ordinarily ends the run, though one can consume ads to help with continues.
As the game goes on, the game mixes things up; new running characters, different obstacles — winged creatures, snakes even water — and even the use of floating logs as a means of travel. It incorporates checkpoints, too.
Now, the mix of taps and gestures did take a while to work with; I kept using swipes when tapping would do, but it’s a relatively small issue that most folks probably won’t have.
All in all, it’s a surprisingly engaging, self-contained game that doesn’t stray too far from its opening gambit but is spunky enough to expand upon it. It feels vibrant and can be enjoyed across generations.