Another racing game. With a stupid title. Just what we needed for the iPhone... At least that's what I thought when I went to check out JellyCar. I didn't have a lot of time before meeting my daughter for lunch at her school, but I thought I would have plenty to judge this game as wanting. Boy, was I wrong... and late to meet my daughter.
You'll be immediately intrigued and curious-ified (I just made that up - it gets better) as soon as the game loads up. All the game icons and options on the startup screen begin to drift in the direction you're tilting your iPhone. Soon, they wind up in big, squooshed (see, another one) pile at the bottom of the screen.
This may be the first app that I've played with the options screen before actually advancing into the game. I was simply intrigued by sheer inanity of what I was seeing. Combine that with the ridiculously charming sound effects - which seem to just be someone making noises with their mouth (boing, berang), and you'll be as captivated as I was.
Essentially, you can push any of the icons on the option screen to enter a level and begin playing. You are a "jelly car" - that is smashable, bendable, moldable and pliable. Your car is indestructible. However, you'll need to navigate along the playing level by pressing on the right side of the screen to accelerate, the left side to reverse, and double-tapping to grow your car large enough to surmount the larger obstacles.
I was initially pretty confused - as you can see by the time it took me in my first attempt - to know how to move my car. The background itself gave the appearance of movement, so I thought my car was. It wasn't until I touched the right side of the screen and heard what almost sounded like consistent farting (acceleration noise) that I realized how to navigate.
There is a bar at the top left of the screen that grows as you travel. It's the growth meter, and when it's at its peak, you can double-tap the screen, and your jellycar will grow. This allows you cross ditches and jump large barriers. There are times, however, that you need to be small as well. That's part of the ingenious strategy of the game.
I also couldn't figure out how to exit the game. I tried everything until I found that pressing three fingers on the screen brings up an exit dialog. Going back to the main options screen, I found an icon with a question mark and discovered that it was a brief tutorial. I've included some of the screen shots above so you'll know how to proceed in the game.
The decidedly un-graphic interface of JellyCar looks a lot like a kid has drawn it out. And that's what makes the game so wonderful. It's charming, fun, simple and crazily addictive. I found myself allowing my car to be smashed just to hear the sqooshing noises. The visuals are pretty entertaining as well.
It felt rather good knowing that when you mess up, you don't have to start over - you just right your jellycar and keep on trucking.
After letting my son see the game, he kept snatching my iPhone and playing it. I've gotta warn you - it will kill productivity!
Yes, it's another navigation/car game, but it's not like anything you've played before - except maybe Line Rider. I can't exactly make the connection between the two, but for some reason, the simplicity and sheer innocence of the game is huge draw.
Since it's free, you simply have to go get it and see if you agree with this review. It's won a spot on my springboard permanently.