As crossovers between the “little guys” in iPhone development are becoming more popular I can already see it – hook champ vs. hellkid. After all, the mechanic is basically the same – run, jump and hook / swing when needed. The fact that one game is more like an Indiana Jones adventure and the other sees you trying to escape the pits of hell is a minor quibble. Truth be told there definitely are significant differences in the two games, but one thing holds common between the two – they are both fun. Granted, I do think Hellkid could use a few tweaks, but in the end it’s another in the slowly but steadily growing list of “just one more time” games I’ve played since owning my iPod Touch.
You play the title character, Hellkid, and in all fairness I guess you’re not really trying to escape Hell, or at least not as your primary goal. You actually want to know what it’s like to be human, and you figure out that to do so you’ll need to gather souls of humans that have passed on into the underworld. As luck would have it these souls appear in randomly generated patterns that hover above randomly generated landscapes filled with tall towers and wide gaps. Your character is constantly in motion, so you don’t have to worry about that part of it. All you have to do is tap once to jump over a gap, and tap and hold while jumping to grab onto a tower and swing. When he reaches the apex of his swing he’ll let go, but if you’re not near solid ground yet you’ll need to try and grab another tower before you fall into a pit. Along the way you can collect blue and orange souls, and you get more points the more you can collect in a row without missing one.
On the down side, that’s really all there is to the game. You can earn achievements along the way, but even that was a bit disappointing because they chose to use their own system instead of one of the already established ones. I personally think this would have been a good candidate for OpenFeint. Anyway, getting back to the game itself, some obstacles would have been nice. Things to jump over or duck under would have added a bit of needed variety to the game. Also, in the splash screen there’s a cool looking 3-headed dog, so why not have a sequence where that dog is chasing you? I have nothing against simple, especially in this case where simple is still pretty addicting. However, I want just a little bit more, and I know this developer knows how to give it. Maybe an update down the road will see a few extra things added in.
Visually Hellkid is pretty sweet, but I wouldn’t have expected anything less. The main character is cool looking and nicely animated, and has just a slight resemblance to a certain other red denizen of Hell with a bad attitude that smokes a cigar (and no, I’m not talking about a blushing Guerrilla Bob). The background is sharp and nicely detailed, but sadly they didn’t give a distinct look to each of the two levels. There are even birds flying around in the background, which is both neat and odd at the same time. The sound effects are kind of dull, consisting mostly of a bubble-popping type sound when you collect a soul. There’s a whistle when you collect a whole group of orange souls, and the maniacal laughter of your adversary can be heard when you fall into a pit. I like the music, though it can get a bit repetitive after a while. Of course, you really won’t be spending much of your time focusing on the music.
Hellkid certainly isn’t the first kid on this genre’s block, and it may not bring anything new to the game, but it’s still quite addictive. The atmosphere is cool, the character is great, and it’s kind of Reed Richards-ish watching him stretch his arm out to grab a tower. I hope they consider some of the suggestions I’ve made to the game play, but even if the game stays as is I can see myself spending a decent amount of time in Hellkid’s world.