Why did the chicken cross the road? To find coins, obviously.

If you ever wondered what an endless runner version of Konami’s Frogger might look like, then you’ll no longer need to ponder ever again since Hipster Whale’s Crossy Road (out now, free) has finally arrived! In this game you must endlessly cross an assortment of roads, grassy fields, train tracks, and rivers in your never ending pursuit of shiny coins — new playable characters — and ultimate bragging rights. Furthermore, all of Crossy Road’s eternally hopping forward action is presented via an extremely minimalistic — not to mention quite whimsical — real-time 3D cubist presentation.

screen480x480However — before I get too deep into explaining Crossy Road’s mechanics — let’s be sure to discuss how the game is controlled first, as that is the central cornerstone of any solid game play experience. In Crossy Road — similar to Frogger — player may command their currently selected hero (more on this later) to hop in any of the four cardinal directions, with hopping northward being achieved via merely tapping the screen. Furthermore, players may additionally move their chosen hero in any of the other directions — east, south, or west — by swiping their finger across the screen in that particular direction.

Anyways, if it wasn’t obvious from my initial description, then I’ll make it more clear right now: there is never an “end of level” to be reached in Crossy Road, merely endless environments — randomly generated anew upon each session — to explore northwardly. The game will end whenever the player either jumps into the side of a moving vehicle — gets run over by a vehicle — falls into moving water, or is scrolled off the screen’s sides for any reason. The auto-scrolling — however — doesn’t mean that players are forced to make snap decisions, as the screen actually scrolls upward in a rather slow manner (and will only temporarily speed up in order to keep players from going off the upper edge).

Although a player’s score in Crossy Road is actually determined by how far upward they can successfully go within a single run, most players will probably be far more focused upon how many of the infrequently appearing coins they can collect (especially early on). Although players begin playing Crossy Road with nothing more than a lowly chicken, they may earn a new randomly selected character — from a pool of 53 possibilities — each time they collect 100 coins. Additionally, players may earn coins either by agreeing to watch ads whenever they’re offered — which happens at random — or via free gifts just for playing the game, with each successive gift taking more time to arrive than the last one.

screen480x480For the most part — with one particular exception — none of these playable characters have any meaningful impact upon the game play, although many of them certainly do things that spice up the experience. The wizard will randomly set trees on fire while laughing, the alien will teleport every cow he finds back to his mother ship, the robot explodes upon impact, the pigeon randomly craps all over the place, and so on. One of my personal favorites certainly has to be the grave digger, whom plays at night — has all of the trees replaced with tombstones — and casts real light and shadows via his trusty lantern.

Players whom don’t wish to wait for a specific character to eventually be earned for free may purchase that hero early for the price of $0.99, but — as I previously mentioned — not one of these characters will help the player out in any way (beyond their novelty factor). Occasionally Crossy Road will allow players to temporarily test-drive a hero — that they don’t yet have – for three whole game play sessions, during which time they’ll receive an additional 250 bonus coins if they purchase that specific hero before the trial period ends. Outside of these temporary offers, however, the only other way that players may ever artificially influence their gold earning rate is by purchasing the Piggy Bank — whom may only ever be bought — as he is the only character that earns double gold on coin pick-ups.

Since the only reason for gathering these gold coins — as I already mentioned — is to speed up the acquisition of random playable heroes, anyone whom wants to can safely ignore any of the game’s ads and/or purchase options entirely with no consequence whatsoever. This is good, as it keeps Crossy Road focused on precisely what the app should be about: eternally hopping forward — avoiding cars and water along the way — all while enjoying the random chaos that many of the various heroes bring to the table. In fact, Crossy Road is so addictive that I actually had a considerable deal of trouble pulling myself away from the game long enough to properly prepare this entire review for your reading pleasure.

Verdict

Crossy Road is a look at what Frogger might have become if it were ever mixed with an endless runner — given 53 different playable heroes, many of whom have whimsical effects upon the game play — and presented with cubist graphics. It should also be stated that Crossy Road’s game play is quite positively addicting, providing players with a practically never ending sensation of “just one more time.” Thankfully this game play is delivered without any coercive IAPs to muck up the experience, meaning that you have absolutely nothing to lose from grabbing this free app (except for possibly your personal time, you will probably lose a whole lot of that).