There hasnít been a war this big or with two such unlikely opponents since evil pigs got caught stealing eggs from angry birds. Of course I am referring to Gnu Revenge, the new action-physics puzzle-shooter that has you taking on the role of a jetpack-wearing Wildebeest going up against evil space crocodiles that have kidnapped all your friends. Sounds like a pitch for a new Michael Bay movie.
Until a few days ago I had no idea what a Gnu was, but after a quick Google search I learned quite a bit about these ox-like beasts including the fact that crocodiles are their enemies, and you can watch several disturbing videos of the two clashing on YouTube. Thankfully, things are a bit more civilized in this new mobile game from Bulkypix.
The premise is quite simple yet the results are astonishingly complex and quite challenging when you dive into more than 70 levels of physics based puzzles that will be keeping the boys at NASA up for days plotting orbital decays and reentry burns. On each screen you have a crocodile that has kidnapped three of your friends who are trapped in bubbles. You are in space wearing a jetpack and need to launch yourself so that your trajectory touches all three of your friends and ultimately smashes into the crocodile spaceship.
Sure it sounds easy (and pretty ridiculous when you say it out loud), but when you start to throw in planets, nebulas, meteorites, wormholes, suns, and other heavenly bodies, all with their own gravitation effects, youíll need a nerd from JPL standing over your shoulder with a slide ruler and a pocket protector to help plot your optimum path. You tap the screen to start your jetpack burn and can make small corrections throughout your flight as you slip past an asteroid and slingshot around a sun. If you overcorrect you can easily break out of orbit and be lost in space foreverÖor at least until you respawn on the launch pad. Whenever you fail, either by crashing or jetting off into deep space, you immediately restart the level from the launch pad without having to hit a button.
The game is ridiculously addictive with each level taking mere seconds to win and even less time to lose. Youíll instinctively know that your orbital speed is too fast even before you fly off the screen or that your speed is too slow and you spiral into the surface of whatever celestial body you are orbiting. The level of difficulty ramps up exceedingly as the Gnus are placed in harder to reach locations and you are forced to orbit multiple objects to reach them, sometimes even re-launching using a space cannon or using a black hole to reverse direction in mid-flight.
Despite a total lack of traditional aniamtion the visuals are amazing with some truly wacky graphics. You have static sprites of your Gnu and the ones trapped in bubbles and the angry cape-wearing croc in his own UFO but nothing really animates. The trapped Gnus wiggle a bit but your hero Gnu is very stiff and just jets around space like a cardboard cutout with no movement. The croc UFO hovers on fiery jets and suns and planets emit some animated sunlight or radiation. Despite the simplicity, Gnu Revenge looks fantastic. The audio is even simpler with only a few sound effects; mainly the hiss of a jetpack, some weird vocalizations from the crock and the Gnus and the sound when you crash and burn. The music is this weird and repetitive synthesized space theme that sounds like something Iíve heard from a Dr. Who episode.
With more than 70 levels and the obsessive quest to save all three Gnus on each of them (much like collecting stars in similar games), youíre going to spend a lot of time finishing and perfecting your Gnu rescue operation. This is some of the best physics-based puzzle fun Iíve had on my iPad since Angry Birds, and unlike that game, this is all about skill, speed, and momentum, more than chaos theory and random bits of crumbling architecture. Gnu Revenge is an instant classic and soon-to-be family favorite.