When I first read the title “Hill Bill” I was immediately reminded of the similar-sounding Quentin Tarantino films from the early 2000’s. Was this going to be some kind of ultra gory sword fighting game? Or a shooter? A coffin-escape-simulator, perhaps? Nope; it turned out to be a motorbike stunt game, with the title actually being a reference to the hillbilly protagonist. But hey, that could still be cool, right? There’s plenty of room for another Bike Baron or Joe Danger on iOS. Unfortunately, those expectations were soon dashed as well. So what kind of game is Hill Bill, anyway?
Hill Bill (out now, $1.99) by B27 follows the story of an amateur daredevil as he tries to make it big with his motorbike stunts. Through 6 different environments you are tasked with jumping off of ramps and doing various tricks and… well, that’s about it. You see, what really sets Hill Bill apart from other motorbike games is how incredibly simplistic and shallow it is.
It’s a shame, too, because there are signs that the game could have blossomed into something more. The cartoony art style, while not terribly imaginative, is at least fun and gets the job done. And there are tons of different bikes and outfits to unlock (with in-game cash, of course) though they don’t seem to serve any real purpose beyond aesthetics. There’s at least one interesting gameplay idea, as well: You can drag your bike back before you ride in order to leave more room ahead of a jump to gain speed. So what’s the problem, then? After all, there are plenty of iOS games that are fun despite being simple and shallow.
The problem is the gameplay itself is just kinda dull. Each level sees you holding a gas button on the left and then swiping in various directions to perform tricks. If you successfully land the jump (there is only one ramp in each stage) you get to move on to the next level and repeat the exact same thing again. I managed to receive three stars on most levels by repeatedly following this sequence: Drag bike back. Hold gas. Swipe before ramp. Swipe after ramp. Land, win, stars, yay. Repeat, over and over and over. The game never gets harder and never really shows you anything new. That coupled with the fact that the game can be beat in an hour or so and you have problems, indeed.
Maybe the game is made primarily for small kids and I’m totally the wrong audience. Maybe it’s for hillbilly enthusiasts that don’t mind doing the same exact thing for hours at a time. Or maybe it’s just simply boring. So what kind of game is Hill Bill? Ironically, it’s a daredevil game afraid to take any chances.
iFanzine Verdict: Despite a somewhat charming visual style and a plethora of superfluous things to work toward in the shop, Hill Bill is a motorbike game that lands with a resounding thud. It’s a game that’s easy to pick up and play and easier still to put back down and forget.