Imagine, if you will, that you have just settled down into bed, ready for another blissful night of sleep. As you enter the sweet serenity of dreamland, you imagine yourself in a pastel landscape, complete with stars made of crystal, rainbows, fairies, and dolphins. But the most wondrous thing in this sugar-coated dreamscape is you – a robot unicorn with the powers to make any wish come true. As you go forth to do so, sadly, you wake up, and the harsh truth of reality smacks you in the face. If only, for but a moment in this waking world, you could share that feeling of being a robot unicorn with others.....
Prepare to live out the dreams your inner robot unicorn has always dreamed about.
Enter Robot Unicorn Attack, a browser Flash, iOS and Android game developed by Spiritonin Media Games and published by Adult Swim. Yes, that Adult Swim.
Gameplay is rather simple in this 'continuous running' platformer: as a robot unicorn, you are given three lives in the form of wishes, and must rack up as many points as you can by staying alive for as long as possible, as well as collecting fairies and dashing through crystalline stars. While that seems simplistic enough, the speed quickly ramps up, and a poorly-timed jump could mean a tragic demise in the form of missing a platform, or a misplaced dash could send you careening into a wall. It really is a challenge that, when you do end up failing and losing all your wishes, will leave you coming back to beat your high score.
The controls, just like the gameplay, is fairly straightforward. For those playing through the browser, Z acts as your jump control, and X is your dash attack. As for mobile devices, like the iOS and Android devices, you can find yourself using either on-screen buttons or swiping gestures. I found myself more at home with the on-screen buttons, as they felt more reliable than swiping.
As for how well the controls are applied to the game, you'll be happy to know that, not only are there little-to-no latency issues with the controls, but that they're quite sublime. The lightest touch with the jump button will make your unicorn do a small hop, while pressing down the button longer will cause our robotic friend to leap in a much grander, farther scale. The dash function also adds a bit of strategy to the game in that you're given an additional jump if you're still in the air after dashing.
The graphics are bright and colorful, featuring a cartoonish, purple-hued landscape filled with equally cartoonish dolphins jumping around near the bottom of the screen and rainbows off in the background. Our friend the unicorn also has a certain level of detail and polish about him, a rainbow trail following behind him as he gallops across the platforms. Even more fascinating is the animation, with a framerate that runs almost flawlessly. Very rarely did I encounter any framerate hiccups on the browser version. As for the mobile version, the framerate difference is noticeable, but not enough to adversely effect gameplay. Aside from that, the mobile version plays similarly to the browser version, right down the rainbow backdrop.
While only boasting one track in its soundtrack, in the form of the song Always by Erasure, the song is just as mystifying and fantastic as the game's setting, and even when the game is long over, you'll find yourself humming that irresistibly catchy tune. Sound effects are, again, rather well-suited for the theme: fantastical. A harp strum is the accompaniment for a double jump. The chatter of dolphins can be heard when they appear. Collecting a fairy sounds the tinkle of a bell. And yet hilariously, the finality of striking a wally brings the sight and sound of an explosion that only a robot unicorn can give you.
Never cry, robot unicorn, for you are a star!
And I think that's what has driven Spiritonin and Adult Swim to develop and publish the game: the tongue-in-cheek aspect of the game is ever present as you play, and despite either your laughter at how silly and fantastic the game is presented, or at how focused you are to accomplishing the challenge of gaining the new high score amidst a stage crawl that grows faster by the second, you'll be hard pressed to not find yourself returning again and again. And as digestible as this browser/mobile game is, I can guarantee that you will be playing it many times over.