Of all the oodles of iOS games that have crossed my desk this month, without a doubt, Four Hats (out now, $0.99; free) from App Store debutants Taco Graveyard has the most excellent premise! Taking a cue from the seminal The Beatles-starring mockumentary A Hard Day’s Night, this sidescrolling caper sees you playing as all four members of a mega-famous rock group as they attempt to outrun a mob of manic-stricken fans through 36 levels set across 4 wacky worlds.
Now, if you checked out our recent hands-on preview of this one, you’ll already have a pretty good idea of how Four Hats’ fast and furious gameplay works (and indeed how much I dig it!), but for those of you who may have missed that article, I’ll backpeddle slightly and bring you up to speed.
Basically, each stage plonks the player right in the thick of a crazy chase sequence; The Four Hats are fleeing a throng of googly-eyed groupies and paparazzi, and your job is to ensure they all make it back to their tour bus in one piece. The initial handful of levels act in lieu of a tutorial, allowing you to get to grips with the game’s control scheme (pretty standard fare for an iOS sidescroller, really: you’ve got virtual directional arrows positioned on the bottom left of the touchscreen and a chunky contextual action button on the right) while incrementally introducing each band member and their special hat power into the fray.
Yes indeedy — I did just say “special hat power”! You see, each of the fab four possesses a unique piece of headgear which imbues them with a special ability: frontman Parker is a super-fast sprinter, Holly, the group’s keytarist, can float thanks to her propeller cap, bassist Danny rocks an over-sized stovepipe hat in which he hides from paps, while Danny, the drummer, can smash through otherwise impassable obstacles with his construction helmet. As you dash through levels, the idea is to quickly switch between characters and use their special ability in order to skillfully evade the murderously over-excited fans and photographers who launch themselves at you from all angles.
Four Hats barrels along at a rollicking pace and it’s quite tricky having to worry about switching protagonists on the fly at first, but once you get the hang of things and start to appreciate the game’s madcap rhythm, it’s pretty much impossible not to have an utter blast. Also, Taco Graveyard crank up the craziness with each passing level and all 4 worlds boast an original song by “The Four Hats”, so this is one of those games you’ll keep playing just to see (and hear) what lies around the next corner!
From the hugely unique gameplay to the quirky art style (courtesy of ace comic book artist Stephen Emond) and toe-tappingly excellent tunes on offer, there’s a whole lot to love about this game. To be honest, the only thing I can see making Four Hats more of a crowd pleaser than it already is is some manner of unockable endless mode with Game Center and/or OpenFeint leaderboards and achievements to work towards. As is, this groovy little sidescroller still comes highly recommended.
iFanzine Verdict: The Four Hats is an exhilarating and raucously entertaining sidescrolling caper that wows with its increasingly madcap gameplay, lush, hand-drawn visuals and rockin’ tunes.