It seems as if the top spots of the iOS charts are always reserved for games with birds as their main characters. Between Tiny Wings and the army of Angry Birds games out there, there really isn’t much room for other animals to show that they could be on top.
Then there is Whale Trail, which stars — you guessed it— a whale. Though it never reached the top of the iOS charts, Whale Trail is a wonderful game that I feel beats out its avian competition. Find out more after the jump.
Swimming in a Sea of Clouds
The basic gameplay of Whale Trail is similar to that of Tiny Wings. The only control is to tap on the screen. This will propel the whale upwards, unlike Tiny Wings where the bird will move down with a tap. The longer you tap, the higher you will go until you finally drift into a loop-the-loop.
Though the controls are very simple, gameplay is pretty challenging. For one, you are constantly running out of fuel. You must collect the bubbles on screen in order to maintain an adequate fuel level, which can be monitored in the top left corner of the screen. If you run out of fuel, it’s game over. You also can not drop below the clouds on the bottom of the screen or you will face a certain death.
Maintaining a flight that will always keep your whale fueled will take a few trials to get used to, and patience is your best friend. As you collect bubbles, you will gain score multipliers. Multipliers increase in increments of four (i.e. a 12x multiplier turns into a 16x multiplier), and each one takes longer to earn than the one beforehand. Your hard work does pay off in the end as multipliers greatly add to your score.
Of course, there are elements of the game that act as bonuses. Along the way, you will encounter many speed boosters which often lead you to huge stashes of bubbles. There are also many colorful stars. Collect seven of these stars and you will enter frenzy mode. Frenzy mode lasts about thirty seconds allows you to pummel through clouds effortlessly and makes you attract bubbles that you would not normally be able to reach. Yellow creatures attract bubbles; red creatures will destroy clouds upon contact. At the end of every world there is a furry character that spits out bubble bonuses.
Unfortunately, none of this comes without a challenge. Running into clouds while you are not in frenzy mode will cause you to move down one multiplier and lose fuel. Plus, as you progress through worlds, bubbles become more scarce which makes it all the much harder to stay fueled.
Making a Splash
Whale Trail’s addictive gameplay makes it a hit for everyone. Its controls are simple enough for a young child to play, but still offers the challenge that we all appreciate. The developers did a great job balancing out the types of bonuses you get with obstacles that grow more numerous as you progress. Essentially, it’s the game that will always have you saying “just one more round.”
Plus, the game offers two different game modes: Classic and Challenge. Classic has the simple endurance-style gameplay that games like Tiny Wings offer — you go on indefinitely until you die. Challenge mode forces you to gain a certain amount of points within a defined area. The more points you collect, the more stars you will gain on the level. These game modes offer variated gameplay which is something only the best iPhone games have.
Achievements are implemented into the game very well. Notifications pop up on the screen every time you have unlocked another achievement. Also, achievements and stats can easily be checked within the application, so you will nevertheless to deal with Game Center while playing.
Sea-ing and Hearing
The absolute first thing that you’ll notice when you open Whale Trail for the first time is that the game will have colors — and lots of them. I will say that the rainbow was used pretty well throughout the application, and ustwo did pull off a hard task. Cartoon-style artwork was also done very well as the artwork itself is crisp and clean.
Some of the artwork in the game I was not too fond of. The backdrops were often odd and distracting, especially since they were a bright color. I also was not a big fan of some of the bubble-spitting monsters at the end (particularly the green one) as they could be quite ugly looking and make rather disgusting noises.
While I don’t usually comment on app soundtracks, Whale Trail’s is one I felt obligated to talk about. Whale Trail flaunts one of the most intricate soundtracks I had ever seen in an iOS game. To be honest, I thought that the looping music was a song by The Beatles or something of the like at first. I could not decide if I liked it or not; it is kind of distracting to say the least. Even more annoying is the sped-up “peppy” frenzy mode music. It’s interruptive to the calmer loop and is just, well, annoying.
Odder than the music is the focus around the soundtrack itself. Not only is the soundtrack available on iTunes, but the link to the music video is loud and proud on the main page of the application. I just found this a little bit weird as app soundtracks aren’t usually something that are glorified.
All in all, Whale Trail is an astounding application that everyone should have. Awesome, addictive gameplay will provide you with hours of entertainment no matter what your age. The plenty twists and turns keeps the game interesting, and the numerous achievements give you something to aim for.
Whale Trail can be had for $0.99 from the App Store. It’s universal and you’re supporting some lesser-known developers, so it is definitely worth the buy despite its few flaws.