Deceptively simple but hard to master, Bumpy Road might just be the perfect cure to every kind of “few minutes of boredom.”
Bumpy Road isÂ a physics-based platformer, where your goal is to send a cute little family car on a road trip. But this is no ordinary road — it’s made up of narrow vertical slats, which you can manipulate. Which is good, since you have no direct control over the car whatsoever.
You play by tapping anywhere on the screen, to make the titular road raise in height. A little hump is created (see the screenshots) according to where you touch the screen. The screen scrolls by at a pre-set rate and the car keeps up with it, so your job is to help the car collect as many items along the way as possible and make sure it doesn’t fall into danger. You’re really controlling the road instead of the car, and it takes some time to get your brain to make this rather radical shift.
Using this control scheme, there are a few different things you can do. Tapping the screen directly beneath the car will cause it to hop. Tapping in front of or behind the car will create an incline that will speed up or slow down the car. Using these tools, you can get the car to hop up to floating platforms, or jumpÂ over obstacles like water holes. Clearing obstacles can be tricky, because you have to build up enough speed to keep moving forward once you jump. There are also unique objects like platforms which will speed you up, or springs to bounce you up really high.
The game offers two primary game modes: “Sunday Trip,” which gives you a short track with a finish line to make it to; and “Evergreen Ride,” a test to see how long you can last against a never-ending track. Sunday Trip comes in three difficulty settings, while Evergreen Ride recently got a free update that gave players two kinds of roads to choose from Â — along with loads of new platforms, backgrounds, level segments, and more. All of these items appear to be generated randomly by the game, ensuring that you’ll never play the same way twice. The random element keeps things from getting too repetitive, though I found the game to still have too little variety to engage me for more than 20 or 30 minutes at a stretch.
There’s also a “Memory Lane” section, which compiles all of the memories of the family traveling in the car. It gives the game a hint of a story, while remaining entirely optional to those who’d rather just play. The game has its own cute, original soundtrack, Game Center achievements, and it’s available for both iPhone and iPad.
Bumpy Road is a perfect little casual game for those brief snatches of time when you’re waiting at the doctor’s office or getting the oil changed. It’s beautifully made, and will keep you challenged if you have the patience to keep playing. It requires not so much a learning curve as a shift in thinking, but those who make it will find that this clever change in how you play is its own reward.