With so many apps available inside the iTunes App Store, it’s very easy to overlook a good one, particularly if you’re a gamer. One such title is Hill Climb Racing, which has been available (on Android too) since late 2012 and gathered more than 10,000 positive reviews, but has somehow managed to pass us by until very recently. In a way, this was a good thing, as Hill Climb Racing has eaten up a considerable amount of our free time ever since.
The game is simple. You drive a car along different stages, and the aim is to get as far as possible, all the time amassing coins with which you can buy upgrades for your existing vehicle, open up new stages, or buy a new car entirely. Watch out though, as each car has a limited amount of fuel and the terrain is so bumpy you’re forever at risk of rolling over and (virtually) breaking your neck.
Coins are scattered throughout each level, as are fuel cans to keep you moving, but more points can be earned by performing death-defying stunts. You start off in a basic jeep on the Countryside level – it’s easy going for a while, but the hills get larger and the gradients steeper, but you’ll find yourself leaping over them in no time. Doing this, along with flips while in the air, is where you find the largest gains – mastering control of the car is essential.
However, Hill Climb Racing is not a simulation, and as it’s a 2D side-on game and all the controls you have are stop and go. They’re not only effective on the ground though, because once you’re airborne, tapping the brake and accelerator adjusts the pitch of your car, allowing you to control your landing.
With a healthy amount of coins in the bank, it’s time to start upgrading your car. There are several options, such as the engine, tyres and suspension, and each makes a noticeable difference to the vehicle’s performance. Along with improving the car, there are various new levels to unlock, plus some tantalizing new motors up for grabs. It can all get very expensive, very quickly, and you’ll not be surprised to learn there are plenty of in-app purchases to satisfy your craving for coins.
Thankfully, they’re really not necessary, because if you put in the hours, it’s easy to build up a stash of coins to fulfil your every desire. Here’s a hint; unlock the Moon level as soon as you can, as even with a basic vehicle, the jumps you make can rack up points far quicker than any other level. The moon isn’t the only option either, as there is the super-fast Highway, the very tough Mountain, and the slippery Alien Planet to play too. The graphics are basic – although the Alien Planet’s seething surface looks cool – and while we quickly turned the music off, the other effects are fun, especially the sound of the turbo’s wastegate once you’ve tuned your engine to the max.
Few games can match it for that just-one-more-go draw, and if it hooks you, you’ll be playing it for hours. There is a degree of skill needed to take on each level, and the desire to beat a previous distance record provides enough incentive to keep coming back. Plus, as certain vehicles perform better on different levels, you’ll want to buy and upgrade each of them. It’s a credit to the developer that the in-app purchases aren’t essential to making progress – good news for those who simply can’t stand waiting.
Hill Climb Racing costs nothing to download, is universal for the iPhone and iPad, and a mere 13MB in size; plus it’s hugely addictive, and providing you don’t mind playing for a while, completely free to progress through the levels.
It may not look like it from the screenshots, but Hill Climb Racing is an almost perfect mobile game, and an essential download. You can get it from the iTunes App Store, or Google Play, and it plays the same across both platforms.