Endless casual games comprise a huge portion of the App Store, and for good reason – they’re great to pick up and play for a few minutes at a time, they’re easy, and most importantly, the gameplay is almost always a lot of fun.
There are endless runners like Temple Run and FANTASYxRUNNERS, endless flyers like Tiny Wings, endless climbers like Pocket Climber, and endless jumpers, aka Doodle Jump. Essentially any app that involves movement can be turned into an endless game, and now with Catch the Ark ($0.99) from Chillingo, there’s even an endless rafting game.
In Catch the Ark, three poor little creatures haven’t been allowed onto Noah’s Ark, so after building a raft, they set off down the jungle rapids after Noah. This is where you come in, helping Titan, Boon, and Zuzu navigate the rapids, avoiding obstacles like devastating rocks, hungry crocodiles, and angry sharks.
The game features crisp, bright graphics that looked amazing on my iPad, and controls that were intuitive and easy to use. To move the raft left and right, simply tap on the respective sides of the screen.
There’s no more skill involved beyond that, but there are quite a few obstacles in the way, so successfully steering through the rapids requires quick movements and thinking ahead. The raft will also speed up as you progress, making it tricky as you drift further down the river.
Obstacles like rocks, alligators, and dinosaurs are generally stationary and easy to avoid, but other enemies, like sharks, pace back and forth, making it more difficult to accurately maneuver through them.
The ultimate enemy is Noah himself, who is kind of a jerk. At times the little raft will approach his ark, at which point he sends out explosive barrels that must be carefully avoided.
Because there are three animals on the raft, you have three lives. Every time you hit an enemy or an obstacle, you will lose one of the animals. If all three are dead, you must restart.
As you go you will have objectives to fulfill, and there are also coins to gather. The coins can be used to purchase a few power ups that help you progress further, and there are also additional rafts to buy. Gathering coins is a slow process, but it does speed up as you become better at navigating hazards and getting further through the game.
Despite the array of enemies and the addition of power ups, I found Catch the Ark to be mundane. While it does bring the rafting mechanic to the endless runner genre, it adds little else that’s new. Gameplay has a tendency to get repetitive, but as with all endless runners, it’s suitable for playing in short bursts of time.