I’d like to precursor this review by making it very clear that I’m a huge fan of everything produced by Bjango. They have a unique style of application development that always stands out from the crowd, with a range of excellent software.
With their latest release – Sideways Racing – Bjango is taking a step away from their roots in utility/information apps, producing their first game. Based on the quality of previous work, I was thoroughly excited to give it a try.
Read on to find out a little more about Sideways Racing, and see how it stacks up!
Before getting to the details of the app, I’d like to share the vision for Sideways Racing (from developer Marc Edwards):
As a kid, I loved playing arcade and 16bit-era top view racing games. Like a lot of games at the time, they were fun, challenging and had instant appeal.
All the developers working on Sideways Racing share these common memories. For us, being able to create and release Sideways fulfils a life long dream. If only the pimple-faced 14 year old versions of us could be here to witness it…
Sideways Racing is reminiscent of these older games, but with modern physics, improved graphics and improved sound. It’s amazing how the games industry has turned full circle on platforms like the iPad, where small teams can once again build great things.
Sideways is a top-down racing game, that makes full use of the iPad graphics and hardware. It has an intrinsically “retro” feel throughout, but at the same time is clearly something designed for the latest and greatest gaming platform.
There are three game types: League, Knockout, and Time Trial. Each of these offers a different style of gameplay:
The standard type of gameplay centres around a series of leagues. Each time you complete a league, another unlocks (providing you’ve topped the leaderboard). Tracks, races, and competitors get steadily more challenging as you progress through the game.
This is a fairly unique idea. You race all tracks from all areas in succession. A win gives you the privilege to race again in the next round, anything less and you’re kicked out the competition.
Finally, time trial mode pits you against the clock (no competitors in this one). You can get a better feel for each track in this mode, and compete with your friends for the best time in Game Center.
Behind the Wheel
This is a straight-forward racing game, and has plenty of unexpected extras and “pickups” to keep gameplay interesting. There are nine full tracks to race around, and you’ll be competing against up to ten other cars at the same time – things can get pretty action-packed…
Various power-ups can repair the damage you’ve incurred on your car, give nitro boost, and various other things. It adds an extra element of gameplay that makes things a little bit more interesting.
The steering system can work in one of two ways. The simplest is a basic on-screen control for steering left or right – just tap the target to steer. This can be moved to either side of the screen, depending upon your preferences.
The second control more is slightly more complex, involving a swipe action to throw your car around the track like a pro. It takes some time to master, but it’s an awful lot of fun.
Bjango have clearly invested time and thought into the music and sound effects, which really shine. Sideways is not only a pleasure to look at – it’s a pleasure to listen to.
Sideways fully supports the Game Center for competing in a central leader-board against friends. You can track your best times and achievements, comparing them against your friends. There’s no way to play head-to-head with another person as yet over Wi-Fi – something that would make a fantastic addition in a future update.
There’s a handful of different configuration options for the game, but things are kept very simple on the whole. You can – of course – adjust the sound effects/music volume (keep it up high!). Steering options can be either set for swiping (more advanced), or buttons (best for beginners). These controls can be set to display at either the right of left of yours screen.
I particularly liked the simple choice of difficulty – easy, or hard. There’s no “intermediate” here, and it’s all or nothing! This makes me more inclined to experiment with the option, as the choice feels less daunting than the usual three options we’ve become accustomed to.
Get Your Race On
After playing Sideways for a few hours, I’m hooked. It’s a beautifully designed, immersive game that offers a decent amount of gameplay for a few dollars. Based on Bjango’s prior reputation, my expectations were high – and Sideways didn’t disappoint.
I strongly recommend heading over to the App Store and picking up a copy – Sideways is on offer for $1.99 until June 1st, and will then increase to $2.99 (still a ridiculously great price for this level of gameplay quality).
If you’ve given it a try, I’d love to hear your thoughts – feel free to share in the comments!