Itâ€™s always pleasing to see local game developers â€˜getting down to businessâ€™ and producing great game titles. Wellington lads Sidhe, and their pint-sized pocket studio PikPok, have been doing just that in recent years. But they have only put their â€˜publishing stampâ€™ on this latest release. Twang the Fox has instead been developed by Conix Games â€“ a UK based company of two who have â€˜poured their heart and soulâ€™ into it.
And it shows. Twang the Fox is a cute platformer that is oozing charm and character. It tasks the player with drawing lines - or rubber bands - on the screen in an effort to bounce an adorable fox upwards, collecting items and eventually climbing higher toward the exit.
When drawing their line, players can control the angle of their rubber bands, to ensure that our furry pal doesnâ€™t come a-cropper on dangerous obstacles found along the way. Also, drawing shorter lines makes a tighter elastic band that will send foxy flying higher than a safer, wider one would.
The gameplay isnâ€™t unique, but the execution and polish of the controls make all the difference (an area that PikPok undoubtedly had a hand in). There is also a narrative that pulls the player in, with a storyline revolving around Twang being the father of cubs which have just been cub-napped by a dastardly circus megalomaniac.
As a soon-to-be-father of twin cubs, the narrative struck a chord, and fortunately the game also offered up a fun, semi-addictive outing on the iPad. However, the game isnâ€™t without its faults. For starters, it is short-lived and the addition of more levels in future updates is more a necessity than a nice bonus for purchasers of the game (even at the low $0.99 price-tag). Also, the high graphical standard that I have come to expect from PikPok isn't evident here.
While Conix Games have done an admirable job in bringing colour and life to the visuals, they are marred by static, out-of-focus cut-scenes throughout the game (when played on a New iPad). Even despite my love for the Vulpes variety, I found the main character Twang slightly off-putting with his deranged blue eyes and a tail that grows straight out of the back of his head.
Itâ€™s clear why Twang has no body, however, as the animation style works beautifully. As you bounce Twang around the screen, a gentle gravity has an impact on the way he flies and falls with his furry tail â€˜swooshingâ€™ gracefully through the air. Even some of the other character designs, such as a brilliant drug-addled mushroom-octopi, reminded me of the genius of LittleBigPlanet. But while the overall art direction is well conceived, there was always something about the main character that didnâ€™t sit right with me and sadly, this prevented me from really connecting with the game.
Despite this, Twang the Fox is good fun. Itâ€™s highly accessible and does a great job in adding variation to the gameplay, despite the basic mechanics. A game of this caliber is admirable for any two-man team like Conix Games, and there is a unique feel to the gameâ€™s oddball aesthetic which works perfectly. It never takes itself too seriously and would be great for young gamers as well. But itâ€™s not the Pledge-buffed brilliance that I have come to expect from PikPok, in the visual department at least.