Flip’s Escape: Surf the Stellar Wave

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A little over a year ago, Shaun Inman introduced Flip to the iOS screen. Intergalactic war was drawing to a close, and Flip was the last rocket to roll off of the assembly line. Unfortunately, the ship became trapped in a star’s gravity field, and Flip had to escape before both he and the ship were swallowed by the star.

Flip managed to escape as the ship spiraled into oblivion, but the resulting stellar shockwave leaves little time for celebration. Shaun Inman’s Flip’s Escape reunites players with the star of The Last Rocket and his computer companion as he flees the impending wave, avoiding speeding astroids and collecting their orbital power ups. But does the second chapter of Flip’s adventure hold the same thrills and charm as the first, or is it a cosmic dud? Let’s find out.

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Gameplay

Tap the screen to begin, no quarters required.

Tap the screen to begin, no quarters required.

Players are tasked with helping Flip to dodge oncoming rocks and outrun the solar blast. The controls are dead simple; Flip moves back-and-forth across the screen, but users can stop him by tapping and holding the screen. There aren’t any directional controls or swipes, just simple brakes. Appropriately-timed stops are the key to keeping Flip from colliding with Asteroids. Stopping does come at a price, because the solar explosion inches closer to Flip for as long as he brakes.

Whether it be at the hands of an astroid or explosion, destruction is imminent.

Whether it be at the hands of an astroid or explosion, destruction is imminent.

Each asteroid has an orbiting star that acts as a power for Flip’s star meter. Flip must collect the stars and fill his star meter while avoiding the asteroids. Once the blue meter is filled it changes to red. If the meter is red, Flip can hit an asteroid without exploding, which nets him a few gems but drains the meter. If a player fills the red meter, Flip warps. Flip collects gems while warping, and gems can be used to purchase upgrades. Players can boost the warp by tapping the screen rapidly and filling the warp meter.

Fill the star meter to warp and travel even faster.

Fill the star meter to warp and travel even faster.

Flip’s Escape is a completely different adventure than The Last Rocket. There’s very little story to follow, and there are no levels. Despite the simplicity of the game, Flip’s charm remains intact. The 8-bit soundtrack compliments the pixels that make up the gaming experience, and every inch of Flip’s Escape oozes classic-console goodness. Unlike the original, there’s no endgame here. Flip’s goal is to go as far as possible without being destroyed, but there is no true escape. The joy comes in achieving a new high score, or trying to beat Inman’s score in the iOS Game Center.

Upgrades

Flip has several friends and tools to help him escape the blast, but each of these comes at a cost. Gems are the currency of choice in Flip’s Escape, and these are used to purchase upgrades and consumable performance enhancers. Initially, players only receive gems while warping, but purchasing “The Fare” upgrade nets players a gem for each 10 units travelled.

The consumable drill and star magnet upgrades are stackable, so players can stock up before play. The nose cone drill saves Flip from destruction when colliding with an astroid with a blue star meter. The star magnet attracts five missed stars. Players can purchase three of each of these upgrades, but “The Trailer” upgrade triples the storage limit. Players can also activate the speed reducer or booster to slow Flip’s maximum speed or increase his minimum speed. There are three tiers and players will want to choose between the reducer or booster based on personal strategy. A slower rocket is easier to control, but a faster rocket nets gems at a speedier rate.

Use gems to purchase upgrades or a spiffy new costume.

Use gems to purchase upgrades or a spiffy new costume.

Upgrades, aside from speed enhancers, also result in cosmetic changes. AMI tags along clumsily, while Flip’s drill spins, hungry for asteroids. These touches add character and charm to a game who’s simplified story would otherwise seem flat. Players with extra gems to burn can purchase two additional costumes, a ninja or cactus, but these offer no gameplay advantages.

Upgrades can be disabled in the Gears menu.

Upgrades can be disabled in the Gears menu.

Although players can earn gems through gameplay, players can also purchase gems in the game’s mine. Some may cringe, but Inman takes a respectable approach to in-app purchases. While most apps have dual currencies, where players are forced into buying currency in order to afford specialty items, Inman sticks with gems. It’s perfectly possible to play the entire game and purchase all upgrades without spending an extra dollar. There isn’t a tedious grind to gain enough money for an upgrade, so purchasing gems directly is merely an option of convenience. If anything, Flip’s Escape could benefit from additional upgrade tiers, somewhere in the million-gems range. Avid players will soon find their store emptied and upgrades maxed out.

Universally Awesome

Flip’s Escape packs a punch on both the iPhone and iPad. Gameplay is identical on both devices, but the large iPad screen makes it easier to time Flip’s pauses and movements. Fortunately, the game upgrades and high scores don’t sync across devices, meaning that iPad players won’t set an unrealistically high bar for themselves if they want to play on the iPhone. Game Center does show the users highest score across devices, but this doesn’t affect any in-game action. Despite the iPad’s gameplay advantages, there’s something about the iPhone’s small screen that suits the 8-bit style. Regardless of device, Flip’s Escape is a blast.

Game Center achievements and the quest for a new high score make Flip's Escape hard to put down.

Game Center achievements and the quest for a new high score make Flip’s Escape hard to put down.

Conclusion

Flip’s Escape may not be as complex as its predecessor, but there’s something special amidst the meteors and Ninja costumes. While The Last Rocket has little appeal after its satisfying conclusion, Flip’s Escape will leave players tossing their iDevices in frustration long after they first experience destruction at the hands of the stellar wave. It’s this kind of frantic screen-tapping gameplay, combined with excellent retro graphics, that brings back memories of quarter rolls and arcade machines — in a good way.


Summary

Help Flip escape the stellar explosion and dodge asteroids in this followup to The Last Rocket.

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