Flappy Bird clones are usually badly created, cheap rip-offs whose developers have no intention of actually creating anything worth your time. Instead, they just tapped into a trendy environment during a particular time with the sole purpose of making money off somebody else’s design.
Even though Jumpin’ Donuts does tap into the Flappy Bird idea stream, it doesn’t feel like a cheap Flappy Bird rip-off. With original minimalistic design and cute audio, the game will definitely keep you playing for longer than you originally intended. That is, if you like the frustrating game design that has zero tolerance for mistakes.
Designing the game
The game was created by Oops! studio for iOS and Android-powered devices.
The game design is as straightforward as it can be – you take control of a ram, running endlessly in a straight line from left to right, and have to jump to avoid donuts coming your way. Now I don’t know how the developer came up with the idea of a ram jumping over donuts, but I won’t go into that. It’s also funny knowing that rams don’t really care about jumping over things and if they don’t like you, they’ll walk straight through you. Exhibit 1 and exhibit 2.
Similar to Flappy Bird, the phone is held vertically, and in order to jump, the player need only tap the bottom of the screen reserved for that command. That’s pretty much it concerning gameplay.
The look and the feel
I really enjoyed the simple visuals of the game. Snow white background with nothing but black outlines of figures around you, including the surface on which the ram runs, as well as clouds in the sky, create the most soothing visuals I’ve seen in a long time. The only exception is the ram, whose face is painted grey, and the donuts, which are coloured.
I’m not really sure why the developer decided to leave the donuts in colour, but let’s just write that down to the designer’s artistic expression.
After testing the game for some time I have experienced no stuttering or bugs. It runs smoothly, and the ram is responsive to the tap.
The game rewards you with medals and cups if you achieve a good score, which is a cute little add-on. It also features the leaderboard which can tap into your Google friends list to see which one of your friends failed more than you did, as well as go worldwide to show you just how bad you actually are.
The statistics page shows you how many times you’ve played the game, what’s your best score and all the virtual awards you’ve won in that time.
It also has simple social media integration, allowing players to share their success on Twitter and Facebook.
Monetization and other issues
One element of the game I feel was badly designed is the way the game is monetized. It earns its living in two ways – via ads and through the “upgrade app” option.
Ads are placed horizontally in the bottom of the screen, basically on the same spot where the jump button is. Sometimes, when you really get into playing and tap fast, you’ll die, but still press the button out of reflex, opening up whatever the ad was displaying.
For me, this is an issue in two ways – first of all I feel like I’ve been tricked into pressing an ad I usually wouldn’t press and second of all – once you press it and the information goes to the advertiser you did – you’ll get served similar ads, potentially blocking you from content you’d actually like.
I’d really like to see the ads placed on top of the screen, where it won’t get in the way of the jump button.
The second way of monetization is the “upgrade app” option. The developers wanted to split the game into a free and a premium version, with premium obviously having more features. However, looking into the features offered in the premium version, we’ll see it’s not really worth the effort:
For $0.90, you’re offered ad disabling and “enable reset stats feature.” It also says “and last, but not least, support our team.”
This also feels like a trick, as the premium version offers very little value. I’d love seeing additional features like a timer to show how much time you spent in the game, an auto-notice feature which would let your friends know when you’ve beaten their highscore, or perhaps a couple of cosmetic changes to the game.
The way it is now, I’d rather change the “upgrade app” feature to “support us” feature, as it would sound more honest, and honesty is valued most in today’s digital world.
After the review was published, I was contacted by the developer, who had his say on the issue of ads: “I agree that perhaps the ad banner is not in the best location it can be, but […] you can tap anywhere on the screen to jump. That way you avoid tapping on unwanted ads.”