Conceptually, Piclings is both unique and clever, utilising innovative technology to create a game with literally endless potential. A platform game where the player can create every stage themselves, customise each of these and then share them all around the world sounds like a dream come true for anyone who has ever considered designing their own game. Unfortunately, in practice, the game has very little to offer in terms of challenges, gameplay, fun and replayability.
|It all looks great... in theory|
The concept that makes Piclings sound interesting is the fact that each stage can be created and edited by the player via images saved on the iPhone/iPad device. Got a picture of your dog? Why not turn it into a stage for your Picling? It certainly is an exciting idea, being able to use any pictures you have on your device to make stages, not only for yourself but to be shared around the world via the in-built e-mail system. The only problem is, it doesn't execute well at all. Each stage may look different but its still, in essence, exactly the same thing every single time. The player will have experienced the gameplay in its entirety within about five minutes. Once you play through the tutorials and pre-made stages, that's pretty much it.
Sure, you can change the background look of a stage but the gameplay itself is unaffected by this and probably won't hold the interest of the player for any longer than it takes to realise the limitations of the game. Furthermore, the technology which recognises the lines and contours of a picture doesn't always get it right. This means that sometimes the player will expect a “platform” along a contour only to discover there is nothing there, or vice-versa, making for a frustrating and disappointing experience.
The basic premise of Piclings is excessively simple; the player must take control of Picazzo who is a Picling, a blue, flying fruit/toad hybrid. Navigating around the stage is done via a virtual joystick, meaning that the player can touch the screen anywhere and the joystick will appear under your finger. Again, in theory, this is a lovely idea; the ability to use any part of the screen to control your character, but the execution is once again a let-down. The controls are difficult to get used to, your finger gets in the way of the stage and Picazzo never seems to go exactly where you want him to.
|Who the heck takes a photo of a pigeon?|
The challenges of each stage are exactly the same every time as well; collect all the coins as quickly as possible while avoiding the terrifying hordes of enemies. Sorry, did I say “terrifying hordes of enemies?” I meant to say, “two varieties of enemies of which you will come across five or six in total per stage.” The two enemies, named Huffies and Puffies behave in one of two ways respectively: they either fly a circuit around a bunch of coins and will come after you if you fly near them, or they travel along the contours of a stage, back and forth endlessly. Never fear though, they can be killed! Simply lure a Huffie into another Huffie, or even a Puffie, and both will disappear.
Apart from a staggering grand total of two enemies, Piclings offers players the chance to experiment with some power-ups. Don't get excited though, there are only three; a heart to restore health, a camera to freeze enemies in place for a few seconds and rainbow butterfly wings to turn Picazzo invincible for a limited time. There also exists the option to log into the Game Center and pit your scores against the world's elite but, based on the gameplay, this shouldn't prove to be much of a challenge.
The huge potential for a great game via incredible technology is one of the biggest reasons Piclings is so disappointing. The idea itself is extremely intelligent, even unparalleled, yet the execution is so incredibly poor that the game ceases to be interesting or enjoyable and spirals rapidly into the murky depths of repetition and boredom. The $0.99 price tag is completely unjustifiable and any novelty will quickly wear thin.
- Dom S