As a general rule of thumb, mobile games generally try to be either deep and packed with content (Modern Combat or Plants Vs. Zombies), or simple but still fun (Tiny Wings, Doodle Jump). The common pitfall of the latter is failing to strike a balance between simplicity and fun; some become too simple and lose an addicting, enjoyable element in the process. Upon first glance, Backflip Madness certainly seems like it’s headed down the wrong track since the core gameplay seems to center around doing backflips. Well, it does actually center around doing backflips, but can it manage to be simple and fun or will it just be overly basic?
From the get go you’re tossed into a gymnasium stage with the titular goal of flipping, and the unspoken yet required goal of landing without breaking every bone in your body. The one button controls work without a hitch, and will have you air-somersaulting in no time; but while the game helps you get started quickly, it also does its best to keep you from easy, successful landings.
Each successful flip moves you to another platform within the stage; one that is usually trickier to land properly, and landing that one moves you to the next, and so forth. No one can fault the game for being too easy, and the game seems to draw a nice line between “Challenging” and “Difficult”. Timing is everything, and practice doesn’t make perfect without a little luck. That’s ok, though, because the rage at smashing into the ground at mach speeds for the fifth time is quickly forgotten with the joy of landing a perfect flip, and that emotional balance carries throughout the rest of the game.
The problem is: there isn’t really a “rest of the game”. Sure, there are multiple stages to unlock, and different types of flip styles you can earn, but aside from the happiness gained from landing on your feet, there’s no other motivation to press on. Leaderboard warriors may find extra play value in the high scores, but beyond that, there’s no extra content for the common man.
Aside from that complaint, I also wanted to point out the game’s polish level. While it does get the job done, it does nothing more than that, just like the gameplay itself. The soundtrack, overall graphical quality, and even the environments themselves feel bland. Most platforms, be it crates or cliff edges feel like generic copies of each other, and all just seem like different color boxes; albeit ones placed at varying heights.
In some ways, Backflip Madness is the perfect iPhone game, at least conceptually. It offers one-button controls, a simple, enjoyable gameplay mechanic, and a generally fun execution. But in practice, especially repeated practice, the game slowly falls apart. Even though the core mechanic is fun, and addicting to an extent, there’s no other parts of the game that complement it, so the back flipping alone is left to motivate the player. If someone finds themselves bored right from the start, the game won’t improve as time passes.
Backflip Madness is best suited for casual players, who game in short bursts. Within those constraints, I’m sure it can work its magic and be fun throughout. But if one digs deeper for more content, they’ll find themselves bored. If you want a quick time waster, it’s worth a look. But otherwise, it’s probably better to pass.