Madcoaster is one of those games that is so simple you wonder why it took this long to get made. You are basically in control of a 5-car train on a nonstop rollercoaster ride that is spread across various unique themed environments like a spooky Halloween scene or a tropical jungle or icy glacier or hot volcano. The rickety wooden tracks will often have huge sections missing which means you need to tap the screen to cause your train to jump and arc over to the next section of track.
Sure, that sounds easy, but then you throw in all the other challenges that the game requires so you can upgrade your rollercoaster. These tiered challenges ask that you collect a certain amount of coins or travel a certain distance, or hit x-many birds or other creatures that wander on or around the tracks. Sometimes you’ll find power-ups that will allow you to jet-boost your train for a few seconds, or magnetize the cars to attract coins or birds for a quick score boost.
You really don’t WIN Madcoaster but rather play until you lose, hopefully checking off one or more of the goals on your challenge list and setting a new high score. If you’ve ever played Tiny Wings or Temple Run then you know the concept. While simply tapping to jump might not seem like much of a challenge there is an acquired skill to learning how your train will arc so you can time your jumps to get the most coins. You can also swipe up and down to have your train jump up and down on stacked levels of tracks with some levels offering better rewards than others. Of course the biggest trick is learning when NOT to jump, since one poorly timed jump to hit some birds can send you plummeting off the track. You get three lives to start, and heath icons can boost this if you are lucky enough to collect them.
Madcoaster has an intense presentation that mixes exciting Saturday morning cartoon action music with the occasional screams of your coaster riders and some various sound effects for collecting coins, hitting objects, and reaching certain milestones. Graphically, the game looks amazing with awesome detailed backgrounds and delightfully animated characters – my only concern is that after a few minutes of play the speed picks up and it becomes terribly difficult to focus. The wooden structure of the track starts to flicker against the smooth scrolling backgrounds and you have trails of coins and birds flying around…it’s a crazy mess. I ended up having to hold my iPad at arm’s length and focus on just the train and the track so I could make the necessary jumps. Ironically, the game (which is a universal app) is easier to player on the smaller screen of the iPhone since everything is so compact.
Madcoaster is one of those obsessive-compulsive games where you keep telling yourself, “just one more game”. The sessions themselves rarely last more than a couple of minutes, but the fast and furious nature of the gameplay along with the gratification of coin collection and increasing milestone challenges will have you playing this game all summer long. If you really want to get “meta”, play this game while waiting in line to ride a real rollercoaster.