Glu's blatent ripoff... errm... "homage" to Cool Runnings has arrived. Does the game take away the gold?
Jamaican Bobsled from Glu does take a Jamaican bobsled team from their tropical home all the way to Olympic gold, but its clear right from the first level that the game was designed with arcade-style gameplay in mind. It feels weird to be bobsledding for a gold medal dodging rocks and palmtrees, while collecting the occasional Jamaican flag, but it still works in its own way.
The game features two modes- arcade, and championship, although in truth both play out arcade-style. Championship mode tasks gamers with getting through each course as quickly as possible. Every crash into an obstacle (which also include moving blocks of ice) costs you a few seconds, but collecting a Jamaican Flag shaves ten seconds off your total time. Arcade mode challenges gamers to get a high score on each track by collecting tokens, which are placed liberally. Different colored tokens are worth different amounts of points, and in this mode flags boost your score by 1000.
Early on the modes feel different, but the farther you get in both arcade and championship, the more they feel the same. Although you're free to crash as much as you like in arcade mode, doing so will cause you to miss valuable tokens, so you'll eventually devise the proper line through a level. In championship mode time is all that matters, no matter what path you take, but in some levels time-saving flags are needed. So you'll end up devising proper lines there, as well.
Both modes also feature goodies like spring-boards which will vault you into the air, and rockets, which give you a boost of speed. I think the game would have turned out better if all the zaniness had been kept to arcade mode, with championship housing strictly technical challenge courses, creating a more varied gameplay experience.
The game's simplistic controls work in its favor. You'll only control left and right steering, as you head down the track at a pre-set speed. The center button acts as a jump, for those times a crash is otherwise inevitable. This simple set-up makes Jamaican Bobsled a perfect pick-up-and-play experience. It's possible to understand the game's ins and outs after just one short track, but it takes many more to gain the expert skills needed to clear later levels.
I'm not quite sure what to make of Jamaican Bobsled, even after spending so much time with the game. On the one hand it isn't trying to be a long, varied, story-driven experience, but on the other hand I can't give the game's shallowness a free pass, despite its inherent fun-factor. The game is fun, but I can't help but think with a little more tweaking and a little more ambitious game design it could have been great. I still believe that those who give it a download will enjoy themselves however, and with highscores for all 30 tracks, it should keep them busy for a while.
What's Hot: Easy to play with one thumb, but still challenging in later levels
What's Not: Not much gameplay variation