(Editor’s Note: What follows is the original review written for the first version the author played, and our site score also reflects the state of the game at that time. Since then, one or more critiques have been addressed by the developer. For a list of these, see “Addendums” below the original verdict at the end of the article.)

Dioxis Mining’s recently released Whirl the Squirrel (out now, $0.99) at first glance looks like it might be a combination of side scrolling Sonic the Hedgehog gameplay meets an Endless Runner. It’s a pity that this isn’t what the title actually was, for otherwise the review to follow would probably be a markedly different beast than the unpleasant report I am here today to deliver. For those of you who just want a simple answer to things, and don’t want to have to read all of this to figure out what the deal is,  I can sum everything up for you in four words: don’t buy this game.

mzl.zkrswxuh.480x480-75Anyways – for everyone still reading – here is a more detailed look into what went wrong with Whirl the Squirrel, which won’t take too long because – like Battletoads – you’re probably never going to get past the third level.

Your goal in each stage of Whirl the Squirrel is to either beat an enemy racer to a destination, such that he doesn’t abscond with one of the rodent’s precious things, or have over a specific number of flowers on hand when you reach a level’s end. The stages themselves has no randomization whatsoever, which is a really good thing as you have to run through them at full tilt if you’re ever going to have any chance of beating your opponent to the punch. The downside of going through anything solely at max speed is that it ceases being a thing of reaction and instead becomes an experiment in rote memorization, especially since your foe will usually pull ahead of you whenever you make a single mistake.

The controls in Whirl the Squirrel – considering that the game intends for you to always be going as fast as possible – have thankfully been kept simple: there’s a left and right button on one side of the screen, and a single jump button on the other. For the most part the player will simply hold down whichever direction the track is currently facing, and do their best to press the jump button at all of the correct places to avoid traps and/or collect bonus flowers. Situations that require jumping include avoiding enemies that approach Whirl from behind, leaping over gaps that come up from the front, activating yellow bounce pedestals in order to send the squirrel flying to a higher track, and occasionally being pressed in mid air to perform a down stomp that breaks the ground below.

mzl.aoziqqhw.480x480-75For the first two levels these inputs work all fine and dandy and you will feel that you have enough control to actually handle what Whirl the Squirrel is throwing at you, or at least you will after first rote memorizing where everything is. However – even as you’re eventually triumphing over these first few stages – you’re going to have a hanging feeling that this isn’t really fun at all, unless you’re the sort that actually enjoyed memorizing subjects for high school tests. Fear not, for any doubts you have as to whether or not this game is actually fun – or if it will possibly ever get better – will be completely put to rest when Whirl the Squirrel completely forbids all forward progress with stage three.

Stage three decides to change things up a bit by not having you try to beat some enemy to a randomly name bauble, but instead challenges you to have over a specific number of flowers in tow by the time you reach the stage’s end. This shouldn’t be terribly difficult as there’s quite a few flowers littered about this particular stage, the real problem here is that each time you touch any of the enemies – or any of the red blobs present – you lose a lot of flowers. This probably doesn’t sound so bad at first, but the crux is that all of the flowers on this stage have been placed within freefalling segments where you must narrowly weave back and forth between two walls of red blobs.

In order to finish the third stage one would essentially have to perfectly thread the needle in an epic fashion, and it is at this point one realizes that the left/right buttons aren’t nearly up to the task at hand. After about an hour of failing to finish this stage – or far less, assuming it’s not your job to write an objective review – you’re going to realize no amount of rote memorization is go to make up for the control imprecision present, and then you will probably never play Whirl the Squirrel again. Especially since you can’t move on to the next level until after you first finish the current one, and – furthermore – there are no IAPs being offered either that might have let you skip past this abomination of a stage.

Thusly you will have finished the game’s actually playable portion in less than ten minutes, the rest of Whirl the Squirrel merely being an ephemeral dream only accessible by a veritable gaming deity.

iFanzine Verdict: Unless a massive revamp of the controls gets dolled out – or at the very least an overhaul of the third level – there is absolutely no reason in the slightest for you to try and play Whirl the Squirrel, and even then the game will probably still just be an endless series of rote memorization challenges played out at warp speed.

Addendum: A recent update to Whirl the Squirrel has ironed out the issues we initially had with level 1-3.

  • + it can be uninstalled…. lol
    as seen in Touchgameplay’s video, he replayed the same level more than 3 times, until finally he gave up… 😛
    I’m interest in this game actually, but after watched the video… I think I hv lost my interest… Thanks for the review… 🙂

    • Haha yeah, Clovis specifically asked that we use Sanuku’s video on this review because it illustrates his problem with the third level so well. 🙂

  • Dioxis Mining

    Hey everyone, this is DioxisMIning, indie creator of Whirl the
    Squirrel. It’s too bad everyone’s having trouble with level 1-3. The key
    is that you’re perfectly lined up in each fall and, usually, have to
    make very little left and right movement to get your flowers. There’s
    also a tough secret right at the start that can help (I won’t ruin it,
    but jump straight up).

    With that said, if people beat 1-3, the
    game truly is fun, with more enemies and new features coming up. I _am_,
    however, making an update, and will be addressing all the issues with
    level 1-3 stated above.

    Clovis, are you up for a re-review once I address these issues?

    • Hey Donovan, thanks for dropping by with those handy tips! Clovis
      is more than happy to give the game another whirl once you’ve finished
      tweaking it. Just shoot us a quick e-mail when the update hits. 🙂

      • Dioxis Mining

        Sounds great to me. I’ll email you once the update is live.

  • Andy Charalambous

    s obvious that 1-3 is a big spike in difficulty compared to 1-1 and 1-2, the developer himself has responded and said he’ll be tweaking 1-3. But it’s not “impossible”. I’m hardly the world’s best gamer, and I can beat 1-3 easily every time now. But for a professional reviewer to give a game 1/5 because he’s crap at it is irresponsible, and very frustrating.

  • awp69

    I’d be the first to admit that 1-3 is not easy. BUT that’s not a reason to give the game a 1/5 stars. Seriously, did you keep at it? This game is incredibly well polished and a great addition to the App Store. I suggest you REALLY play a game before giving it such a nasty score.

  • Gil Ansh

    Agree with Andy. 1-3 is a bit too hard (took me about 6 tries)…but the entire game isn’t poor because of one level. I’m having a real good time with it.

    Take the above review with a large grain of salt!

  • Barfly

    GREAT REVIEW!
    …NOT!

    I had to create an account here just to post, since this review if complete nonsense. Would you give Contra a 1 because an early level is too hard?! COME ON!

    I personally think this is one of the best games released on iOS in the past few weeks. I will admit, I thought the game was a little different when I saw it in the app store, but after I got over the fact that it wasn’t more like Sonic, I love it. Level 1-3 needs to be more balanced, sure. But, it only took me about 3 tries.

    What’s wrong with people these days? Some of us actually like a challenge! It brings me back to the days when I was playing some nearly impossible games on SNES. You feel great when you actually beat those hard levels.

    Great to see that the developer actually cares and listens to feedback too. Let’s see what he does for the next update before the entire game is written off. I can tell you that after you beat 3-1 there is a lot of cool stuff!

  • Forsaken

    1/5 stars just because you are terrible at the game? Yeah okay at makes alot of sense…..

  • Liam

    Absolute horseshit i loved this game because of its difficulty its differnt then any other game because it doesnt hold your hand and wipe your ass through the entire game 4/5 is my rating fuck this guy

  • Pingback: Dioxis Mining Update 'Whirl the Squirrel', Add Numerous Fixes Based on User Feedback - iFanzine.com()

  • Pingback: Interview With Dioxis Mining's Donovan Vice - iFanzine.com()