Mobile Game of the Week: Cool Pizza (iOS)

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Mobile Game of the Week: Cool Pizza (iOS)

Cool Pizza

Platform: Android; iOS
Developer: Secret Library
Release Date: 9/28/2012
Price: Free

At this point the auto-runner defines mobile gaming about as much as side-scrolling platformers defined the NES. Give or take an Angry Birds style physics puzzler, it’s almost the default genre for iOS and Android games. See Jetpack Joyride, Canabalt, Tiny Wings, Whale Tail, Rayman Jungle Run and countless other, less worthwhile games. Load ‘em up, sit back and touch the screen to jump, or hover, or do backflips in the candy-colored sky because you’re some kind of magical flying whale in a psychedelic wonderland, or something.

Cool Pizza is an auto-runner, but it avoids the been-there, done-that by changing the perspective. The action happens from a three-dimensional third-person view like the old classic Space Harrier. Instead of running left to right our heroine runs straight ahead. And instead of running she’s actually skating, on a skateboard, albeit one that never needs a kick. She rides ever forward, hunched over on her board, her long hair and t-shirt flapping in the breeze.

cool pizza screen.PNG

Cool Pizza’s interface is also slightly more complex than most mobile auto-runners. Instead of jabbing the screen to jump you tilt your entire phone or tablet to move the skater from right to left. You do that to avoid attacks from enemies that hover overhead but also to jump off ramps and get in position to kill those enemies. That’s where the screen-touching comes into play: Once you’re airborne you’ll tap the screen to attack those enemies with your board. Whenever an enemy is destroyed the skater flies higher into the air, giving you the opportunity to strike at even more enemies. This is the primary point of Cool Pizza: string together as many kills in a single jump as possible, juggling from enemy to enemy and driving up your score multiplier. Because, like any good auto-runner, a high score is the ultimate goal.

Cool Pizza is a bit more complex than most mobile auto-runners, which is both good and bad. It’s not quite as repetitive as those other games, but it’s also not as perfectly suited for brief bursts of play on public transit or while trying to kill a stray minute or two. It’s better on an iPhone than an iPad simply because it’s easier to tilt the former. I also encountered a bug on my iPad, where it would freeze up on the game over screen after every death. A quick hard shutdown solved that problem, but it grew tiresome doing that after every minutes-long session.

Like most worthwhile mobile games, Cool Pizza can easily become a compulsion, and its art style distinguishes it from the typical mobile game. It’s not a bright cartoon or a navel-gazing 8-bit tribute, but a stark piece of black and white line art with sparse color accents and a Tettix score that sounds like Jan Hammer jamming chiptunes. Visually and aurally striking, Cool Pizza would be a worthy download even if it wasn’t free.