It would seem the future is a dark and perilous time for mankind, for people — in order to escape the endless stampeding herds of animals found down below — have taken to living in roaming airships. Not one to let such dire times as these dampen your entrepreneurial spirit, you’ve decided to journey down below to gather up these rampaging animals and afterwards bring them back to your airship! Thus goes the initial premise to Rodeo Stampede (out now, free), a game which admittedly has taken some hefty design cues — especially in the art-department — from iOS hits such as Crossy Road (our review).
The game begins with you finding yourself placed upon a stampeding buffalo, whom you may freely control by dragging your finger either left or right (after all, this wouldn’t be a very long ride if you steered your buffalo straight into a giant boulder of some sort). Eventually — no matter how good your terrain dodging skills are — you’re going to anger that buffalo you’re sitting upon, at which point he’s going to begin violently bucking and trying to throw you off! At this point both your ride will speed up, and — in a further effort to make you leave — your ability to successfully steer will shoot straight downwards (seeing as how this guy is fully willing to eliminate you alongside himself, if needs be).
However — fear not — for your daring zookeeper isn’t merely forever-bound to their starting buffalo, for — at any given moment — they can leap forth simply by having the player release their iDevice’s screen! While airborne you won’t exactly have much in the way of left-right motion control over your adventurer’s pathway, seeing as how they clearly haven’t gone to the Super Mario Bros school of ignoring physics. They will — however — have a dotted-circle upon the ground that represents where their lasso is currently aimed, and will successfully ensnare that spot as soon as you regrab the screen.
Things will — whenever this newly-grabbed animal is something already in your collection — continue on as described above, going forward until you eventually give your hero a violent face-plant. Things go quite differently — however — whenever this freshly-lassoed animal is something not yet found in your zoo, with your rider being challenged to ride that bucking-beast until they finally submit. Successfully maintaining your grip on this angered-foe will add them to your ever-growing sky-zoo, and naturally people will pay more to visit your establishment based on the number of species you’re displaying!
Other than merely tracking down wholly new animals — as well as the occasional exotic variant — there will also be times where you find money crates littering the ground, clearly relics of mankind’s now lost civilization! These will add to your gold reserves, which is useful as your only other means of gathering money is either by completing challenge-based missions — which are often tricky — or by waiting for new visitors to arrive. Eventually all of this gold will then be funneled into giving your zoo’s animals ever increasingly lavish living-quarters, which in turn makes those animals either friendlier and/or more powerful when ridden across the field.
These visitor-trips I’ve been regularly mentioning basically serve as Rodeo Stampede’s equivalent to the countdown-based rewards you’d receive in various games designed by Hipster Whale, except that you’ve got a bit more control over your earnings here. Whereas your countdown-based prizes in games such as Crossy Road would be completely random in size, here you’ll roll a randomized number of families per visiting sky-bus. Each of these families will then pay a fixed-value based on the number — and type — of animals currently living in your sky-zoo, and you can even double the number of visiting families through the power of advertising (i.e. you elect to watch an ad).
Eventually after completing enough missions out on the field you’ll be able to upgrade your airship — for a fee — and move to new region, in the process opening up an ever increasing array of animals. Learning the ins-and-outs of these animals will be key to maximizing your play-time down below, and especially towards completing the various challenges that Rodeo Stampede will toss your way. For instance: although the mighty elephant has the power to smash through every obstacle in its path, the elephant will simply grab your adventurer — via their trunk — and slam you into the dirt when annoyed!
While many other games of this sort also feature a similar cubist art-style — the same paying to upgrade various power-ups — and even a similar tracking down of new toys to play with, there’s just something I like here above all of Rodeo Stampede’s competitors. Specifically that would be the over-arching conceit tying everything together, giving more of a lore reason towards your goals than would ever be found in other such similar games. I also love that Rodeo Stampede’s streamlined controls allow for no confusion whatsoever on the part of your iDevice, as all-too-often games like these are utterly ruined if your iPod spends even a single moment failing to understand your commands.
Perhaps the only group I’d have to violently recommend away from this free game would be those using the iPod Touch 5, or any other iDevice featuring roughly-equivalent levels of internal-power. Although the game’s page claims such devices are compatible — and I was indeed able to make Rodeo Stampede work on just such a device — I’d be lying if I said this game was exactly stable, as the crashes came quite frequently. I’d often crash at the end of each run, crash whenever an ad displayed, crash when I captured a new animal for the first time, crash when I attempted to turn in successful missions, and so forth!
If it wasn’t for the fact my progress was still being saved — despite each of those crashes — you honestly wouldn’t be seeing this review at all right now, which perhaps lends even more credit to the high score I gave (as I loved Rodeo Stampede despite all the crashing).
Taking some similarities from games such as Crossy Road, Rodeo Stampede is a free-based endless arcade-styled game — featuring a cubist-inspired art-style — wherein players constantly strive to improve their floating sky-zoo one animal at a time. The game is aided both by an amusing-conceit tying everything together, as well as some extremely-streamlined controls (the likes of which no iOS device would ever easily mess-up). Basically the only people I wouldn’t recommend Rodeo Stampede to would be those owning the iPod Touch 5 — or devices of similar and/or lesser power — as the game is extremely unstable right now on those units, although future updates might rectify this.