Shortbreak Studios' game is a bitter-sweet take on an old favorite.
If you fell in love with Tiny Wings when it was released just over a year ago, then you'll find it hard not to be a little conflicted when firing up Shortbreak Studios' Sugar High. The product of one-man outfit Andreas Illiger, Tiny Wings' charms were overpowering and its one of the few games to remain on my iPad from the day it launched to the present day.
Superficially, only the cake-infused dreamscape setting of Sugar High seems markedly different from its most obvious inspiration. Taking control of a hungry dog who retires to bed after discovering an empty dinner bowl, you launch Biscuit into his dreams, while pressing on the screen to bring him down in a series of well-timed swoops across hills and valleys. At the end of each island you roll him along a bumpy vertical slope, gorging on a steady stream of candy before launching him towards the next cakey island. Sound familiar? Comparisons are unavoidable.
So what's different? While the core controls of Sugar High are more or less identical to Tiny Wings', a few new mechanics are introduced: the oranges and kiwi fruit embedded in the landscape offer a rollercoaster spin for Biscuit before spitting him out into the sky like a pip. Melon slices are also found throughout the landscape, and passing through each of these gives Biscuit a gentle boost as he whizzes through them, collecting points as he goes.
For every sweet collected, pristine jump executed, and melon slice rolled through, you receive a bonus to your multiplier level which slowly depreciates over time should you fail to perform another feat of daring acrobatics. Max it out at 10.0 and you'll enter the Sugar High mode, accelerating the points you'll earn. Fumble a jump though and the bonus is broken while the multiplier ticks down once again.
Tiny Wing's day and night cycle is replaced in Sugar High with a stuff-of-nightmares, goggle-eyed monster who chases after Biscuit's tail constantly. A slider at the top of the screen shows you his proximity, and should he catch up with you he'll gobble you up and end your run. The good news is that those same acrobatic acts you deftly pull off not only increase your points, but also push the slider back.
A quirky, chirpy soundtrack provides the background music to the game, and there's just a little hint of Popcorn in the menu screens, while a punchier steel-drum vibe accompanies you on your journey across the various confectionary islands of the game.
It's a technically solid, enjoyable title and includes enough new features (just) to make it a worthy addition to your device. With that said, if you possess even a smudge of cynicism, then the immediate influence of Tiny Wings on Sugar High can only take a little of the shine off Biscuit's adventures.
What's Hot: Solid controls and a few new twists on an established style.
What's Not: The game wears its inspirations on its sleeves a little too clearly.