cybertime Release Date:
Crazy Hedgy is an action-platformer about a hedgehog who rolls around attempting to reach the end of each obstacle course, collecting jewels and defeating enemies along the way. Sound familiar? The premise might, but the execution has more in common with a certain monkey trapped in a ball than his famous blue relative. By tilting the screen left, right, forward and back, players roll Hedgy around the floating grass stages in what might be the most seamless and refined use of the accelerometer in an iOS platformer yet. It could have been a stand-out example of how to effectively use that accelerometer, but instead Crazy Hedgy is an example of how one refined gameplay mechanic can’t overcome lackluster art and design.
The game sports smooth 3D graphics, but that’s where the quality design ends. The art, character, sound, music and level design all fall flat, and discovering how much that affected my experience with the game was something of a revelation for me. Starting with something as inconsequential as the name, all the way down to something as significant as level design, Crazy Hedgy completely lacks inspiration. It’s not that I’m not into the cutesy style it’s going for—it’s more that I’ve become spoiled by all the incredible iOS platformers out there that excel in this department.
Traditionally art, story, and music in game design are all supposed to draw the player into interacting with the game’s core mechanics. For example, in Angry Birds, the charming squawks and bright colors of the birds immediately align your sympathies with them and against the disgusting green snorting pigs. But with a 3D platformer as developed as this one, I often felt totally unmotivated to want to continue playing through the levels—much less doing things like collecting gems and buying upgrades.
Many of the stages look and function essentially the same—floating islands, mushroom goomba-like baddies and wood crates to punch open. Speaking of fighting baddies, Crazy Hedgy’s primary attack is a punching move that’s performed by pressing the screen with your two thumbs. I tried this attack in the first few stages, but the majority of the time, it caused me to accidentally jump. Honestly, I found myself rolling and jumping past most of the enemies throughout most of the levels just to get through them. How Crazy Hedgy deals with enemies might be the only way it’s actually similar to Sonic the Hedgehog in that in both games, it is something I always try to avoid. That would have been fine if fighting enemies was something I was rarely forced to do— instead though, the game seemed insistent on making me do it on almost every single segment of each level and even forcing me into clumsy boss fights.
Many people have rated the game well based on its fantastic use of the accelerometer and that praise is most certainly deserved. The mechanic really does calibrate flawlessly and shows a way for a game to rely on this feature of the device heavily over the touch screen. While the game does add some more variety in later stages, for the most part Crazy Hedgy just doesn’t have the depth, style or personality to match its one refined mechanic. What it does do, though, is excite me for the possibility of playing a Super Monkey Ball type game on iOS in the future—possibly even a Crazy Hedgy sequel if cybertime reworks its game plan a bit.