Hippo High Dive

Hippo High Dive

What we liked:

+ Art style
+ Winningly simple
+ Leader boards and stats

What we didn't like:

- Novel, but lacks staying power

DEVELOPER: Imangi Studios   |   PUBLISHER: Imangi Studios   |   RELEASE: 11/30/2009
Welcome to the competitive world of hippo aquatic sports!

With its origins in the code-fest that was the 360iDev Game Jam, Imangi Studios has released Hippo High Dive to the app store in tip top accelerometer shape. Adding a purple hippo to the App Store menagerie, you don a tutu around your ample midriff and take to a diving board. Possessing as much grace as Fantasia and your phone-tilting skills can impart, you must guide the star of the show through flaming hoops suspended in the air until you finally land in an improbably tiny pool of water.

Difficulty is ramped up after each successful dive by raising the diving board higher and higher and adding more hoops to the series. Missing a ring loses Miss Hippo a life, as does getting burnt on the edges twice. With only three lives to spare and dozens of hoops, the game takes you from self-assured to furrowed brow in a jiffy. You can pick up an extra life token from time to time, and aiming for the fiery hoops is facilitated by a little arrow at the bottom of the screen indicating the center of the next obstacle in your descent, but make no mistake the gameplay is challenging.

Each level is randomly generated so replaying a level with 30 hoops will not deliver the same configuration of the hoops. The levels don’t seem to have a cap, but the online leader boards have some superhuman scores well over 1000m. Frankly, I’m just not that awesome at this game. The title also tracks some other fun stats like the total number of dives, extinguished hoops and the highest dive completed perfectly.

An aesthetic divergence from Imangi’s hit Harbor Master, I have so much love for the pen and paper stylings of the purple hippo and her high dive I am tempted to recommend the title on looks alone. Appreciation only increases as the high dive ascends to the heavens and the background expands to feature stars as well as clouds. The music is rife with carnival flair earning its share of the applause for the Imangi duo.

The game mechanic and objective are winningly simple. For me, the appeal lies in the leader boards and the competitive nature of hippo aquatic sports. However, I could see folks of pretty much any age getting a kick out of trying to guide the hippo’s girth through the hoops, the accelerometer controls are just that good (and calibration is available for those that need to tweak the tilt controls). Multiple user profiles are available as well as Twitter integration, but after checking the leader boards I’m convinced my scores are nothing to brag about.

Hippo High Dive is a fun title progressing from casual romp to challenging in a matter of minutes. Playful, but not that addictive shot in the arm that will have you coming back for more. This is minimal commitment, .99 fare, but what the Hippo’s pool lacks in depth, it makes up for in charm.

Review copy provided by developer.

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