Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Free / Indie Game Review: Crash Test Launcher - Awesome

Title: Crash Test Launcher
Platform: Flash - Plays in browser
Sponsor: Max Games
My Rating: 9.5. Hands down, this game is awesome.

   Crash Test Launcher is the perfect game for reminding us all to buckle our safety belts. A free-to-play Flash game available at many Flash portals, including my recent favorite, Flonga, Crash Test Launcher will hook you in at the very beginning and have you playing straight through to the end.
   The objective is to fly as far as possible after being ejected from a car you slam into a wall. As you are flying, there are a few different objects in the air to help keep you flying. You can hit birds or mines for a little bounce, grab a no gravity power up to turn off gravity for a while, and collect some spare cash on the go. Of course, what goes up must come down. A well-timed button press will give you some bounce though. Also on the ground, you will find a Ryu looking guy who will uppercut you back up in the sky. Joining Ryu is a burly baseball player who will also bat you back up in the sky. If you stop bouncing or hit some spikes, the round is over. You are awarded money based on your flight and damage done, and you are free to move on to another round of crash testing. Will this dummy ever learn to buckle his belt?
   Most Flash games do not provide all of the little extras we are so used to seeing in our console products. However, Crash Test Launcher is not short on the extras. What to do with all of that hard earned cash? How about buying some upgrades? You can purchase new cars, jet packs, different ejection tools, items to give you more bounce per round, even an Iron Man suit to make you impervious to spikes. All of these upgrades help you bounce your way through the four different locales.
   The controls in Crash Test Launcher are very easy to learn. Left and right arrow keys drive the car and allow for a little control over the crash test dummy while in the air. Number keys allow you to use your different upgrades. A well-timed press of the space bar will give you a good bounce when you hit the ground. Everything else is pure amusing watch your crash test dummy flying through the air.
   The sound and graphics in Crash Test Launcher go a long way toward enhancing the experience. The soundtrack is a cool little looping beat that sounds almost like flying through the air. All of the bells and whistles are thrown in with the bouncing off the ground and hitting objects making appropriate sounds. The visuals are particularly well-done for Crash Test Launcher. All of the non-interactive portions are done on a gray-scale. This includes background objects as well as foreground objects. It is fun watching yourself fly past all of the different environments. You can even go so far up in the sky that you reach outer space. The colors for the interactive objects are minimal, but enough to immediately be able to tell what you are about to run into. This is important, because sometimes you will be flying through the air at around 500 miles per hour. Being able to distinguish one thing from another at these speeds is darn near impossible.
   I did have to ding this game for a couple of annoyances. My biggest pet-peeve in any released project is spelling errors. There was more than one in Crash Test Launcher. My other big complaint is that this game is essentially over once you purchase all of the upgrades, but there is nothing really to indicate the game has ended. You can continue playing the levels as much as you like, but once you have everything, you will know you are done. I probably would have made a distance goal in the last level to be a "you beat this game" type marker.
   Aside from a couple of nitpicking issues, Crash Test Launcher is a great Flash game that will keep you entertained for a handful of hours. Head on over to Flonga and check it out. And folks, remember to always buckle your safety belt.

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