Reviewed: July 16, 2010
Released: July 2, 2010
App Store Price: $2.99
Videogames have always allowed us to virtually take on an assortment of odd jobs from being a Paperboy, or a chef, or even a prison warden. There was even a game out awhile back that let you mow lawns to earn money. Basically, anything you can do in real-life can be simulated in a video game and now Parking Mania HD lets you take a spin behind the wheel as a parking lot attendant. |
Originally released in 2009 for the iPhone Parking Mania was one of my all-time favorite games and is still part of my sync list, even on my new iPhone 4, but now Parking Mania goes HD with not only a visual upgrade, but also new levels (80 in all) with 30 vehicles ranging from cop cars to semi-trucks. A level summary screen shows you all the cars you will be parking and if the level is day or night.
I can’t believe how something so simple is so insanely addictive and fun. The premise is quite simple really – you drive your car from location A and park it in location B while trying not to hit the curb, obstacles, or random traffic. You accelerate and brake (or go into reverse) by sliding your thumb up and down the accelerator bar on the right edge of the screen while you tilt your iPad to steer.
This leads to my only minor complaint with the game – steering the cars and trucks using the iPad seems to be slightly more sluggish than the smaller iPhone, requiring greater tilting due to the larger size of the iPad. The extra weight of the iPad also starts to wear down your wrists and arms if you play for extended periods. The game is still loads of fun and even more challenging than before, and if you don’t like the tilt controls you can opt for a virtual steering wheel or even a drag-to-steer control mode; all selectable from the options menu.
Avoiding curbs and the bumpers of parked and moving cars is easy at first but things start to ramp up quickly and when you compound the pressure with a clock that is ticking down along with randomly scattered spinning coins for bonus cash, and multiple parking jobs per level, things get crazy fast. There are 30 different vehicles ranging from the standard sedan to a school bus or tractor, to the larger big rigs, with and without trailers. You might even be asked to back your truck up and attach a trailer to deliver it to another destination.
In later levels you will need to park multiple cars, often delivering one car to the target green zone only to park the next car in the now-open space of the first. While the timer will grant you bonus points you can still win the level even after the clock hits zero, which was the case for most of my levels. I am getting faster now on my second pass through the game.
Additionally, you must avoid hitting curbs or parked cars or at least hit them no more than five times in a mission – this includes parking multiple cars. If you hit five curbs you must start over, but any unused strikes will give you bonus points at the end of the level. Hitting a moving vehicle results in a crash and an immediate restart of that level.
The levels are large and the new levels make the most of the extra size of the iPad screen, some even scroll across multiple screens, so handy arrows are used to indicate your path. Visually, the game is awesome with distinct models of cars and trucks and colorful imagery for the background graphics. The roads, parking lots, and sidewalks all have great textures and there is plenty of green foliage, traffic markings, and the occasional gold coin to pick up for extra cash. The nighttime parking is a clever twist and looks fantastic with some great lighting effects.
There is a modest soundtrack that won’t impress you but it doesn’t annoy either, or you can listen to your own music with the built-in play list generator in the options menu. I loved the sounds for all the cars and trucks and that distant hollow sound of traffic. Cars with honk if you get in their way and there is that horrible sound when you hit a curb and an even better crash noise when you hit a car complete with a comic book-style crash icon.
The game is perfect for mobile gaming with each level taking no longer than 2-3 minutes, many taking less than a minute, and you are rewarded with up to five stars based on your peformance for each level. The game auto-saves so you can resume where you left off and it keeps track of your scores for posting on the online leaderboards. The new level select screen shows your best score so you know where to go back and work on those missing reward stars.
I loved Parking Mania on the iPhone and I love it even more on the iPad. Parking Mania HD is colorful and fun and totally addicting and I look forward to many more passes through the game to better my previous scores. As with anything, the more you play the better you get, and this is one game I won’t stop playing anytime soon.