Mobile gaming isn’t generally my genre, but I occasionally find myself addicted to simple little puzzlers with lots of potential. While Candy Crush and Clash of Clans seem to reign supreme, they are driven by in-app purchases and an uncanny ability to drive you insane with difficult levels and invincible bosses. Then came Crossy Road. Breaking the mold and commanding the ranks in the top 20 free games on Google Play, Crossy Road is a delightful endless arcade hopper that is, for the most part, free and fun for all ages.
The goal is simple – like Frogger before it, your only objective is to hop across obstacles without getting hit, sunk, or swept off-screen. While the basic hurdles include cars, trains, lily pads and logs, other objects keep the concept interesting. In “Australia” mode, you can hop on crocodiles when crossing rivers, but if you land on their mouths, they gobble you up. In the “Normal,” “Korean,” and “British” modes, police cars and food trucks can go zooming by and squash you in a second. Other obstacles can also appear, some which can open bonus characters. “Michael Boom,” a character wielding a bazooka who shoots with reckless abandon, is unlocked by jumping into the side of a missile truck that can be occasionally seen on roads.
110 total characters allegedly exist in the game, with some rumored to be “secret unlockables,” available only if a very specific task is completed. While in-app purchases exist, very few characters are purchase-only, with an ingenious design to unlock characters by spending “coins” in an in-game “prize machine.” Coins can be collected along your route, but they can also be earned by receiving a “mystery gift” every few hours, completing specific tasks, or watching ads.
Many characters available are clever in their own right, such as the rainbow-trailing “UniHorse,” the ever-sighing “Emo Goose,” and the “K-Drama Actor” who is surrounded by clicking cameras and screaming fans. Other characters are hilarious nods to pop culture and famous personas. “#thedress” is wearing the infamous blue-and-black or gold-and-white dress that dominated the internet for months. “The Dark Lord” walks in a dark, red-tinged world, and shows an obvious resemblance to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The “Floppy Fish” seems to be both a nod to Flappy Bird, and the beloved Pokémon Magicarp performing his token move, splash.
Crossy Road is undeniably great at killing time, and it also does an excellent job of keeping itself interesting. It plays on the irresistible need to set the high score, and encourages several attempts at that very thing with its easy, enjoyable nature. The simple construction and actual free-to-play feel keeps the game gratifying, even after several days of play. All in all, Crossy Road is a game that will not only entertain temporarily, but will stay fun for boredom to come.