AvaGlide review - X360 Indie Game

   10/08/2010 at 18:54       Joe Bennett       9 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - Gliding, XBOX 360, Indie, AvaGlide, Policewoman in uniform

Gaming can be stressful. For a hobby that I would describe as ‘my way of unwinding’, it often does its very best to wind me up. For example, a very nice forumite from another site recently leant me Motorstorm: Pacific Rift for the PS3. There I am lazily chilling in my love chair (poncey, I know), headphones on and the windows wide open when, after about eight races, I see the little light on the door bell light up. Odd, I thought, I’m not expecting anybody at all. I bet it’s somebody trying to sell me double glazing (“trust me, it’s free fitting”). Only it wasn’t; it was actually my local community police officer (we’ll call her Michelle. She did say her name but a) I probably shouldn’t publish it and b) I’m a bloke and confronted with a woman in uniform I’d obviously stopped listening by that point).

Michelle asked whether everything was alright and when I said it was, she asked if she could come in. I was caught between thinking ‘she’s very forward’ and ‘bollocks I’m sure I slowed down for that speed camera in time’. It turns out that Michelle, who was innocently out delivering the latest Police newsletter, had been somewhat surprised when she had got within four houses of mine and could hear shouting coming from my house. It appears that, with headphones on and me fully immersed in Motorstorm: Pacific Rift, I had been shouting expletives. Not only had I been shouting, but Michelle had been ringing my door bell and knocking on my door for about two minutes before I had finally seen the little light on the doorbell wireless receiver (again, poncey) and got up to answer it.

I felt a bit of a twat at this point but thought I needed to come clean and tell Michelle that I had in fact been playing a videogame (for some strange reason I called it a ‘computer game’ which caused me to pause briefly while I mentally chastised myself, making me look even guiltier in the process) and that that was the cause of the shouting. Michelle then proceeded to read out what she had heard:

“Stop ramming me up the fucking arse” and “I was first. I came first. That’s not fair I came first” were what she heard originally four doors down. However some seconds later, she was treated to “You cheating fucking bastard”, “Stop fucking cheating me” and “Take that you fucking arsehole, how do you fucking like it”, amongst other expletive filled but slightly less risqué sentences. All delivered without a hint of a smile or smirk.

Michelle then asked whether I would like to stick by my original explanation for the shouting and when I did (all the while taking a fascinated interest in the floor) she asked whether she could check my house. When she was finally happy that I hadn’t killed somebody, she asked me to keep it down and left.

On that bombshell

Now this isn’t some ‘Top Gear’ moment that has been made up for the camera (or, in this instance, for your monitor) or because I thought it would be a fictitiously amusing way to open up this article. This actually happened. I got to the point of frustration while playing a game where I literally forgot about what I was saying or that anyone else might be able to hear me. Admittedly wearing headphones didn’t help with the volume of my voice but still, a game, a hobby, a part-time source of income that I would explain as a great way for me to unwind had actually wound me up.

But what does this all have to do with AvaGlide? Well, two things actually. The first being that this is the game I went to as soon as I went back upstairs and decided against another race on Motorstorm: Pacific Rift and secondly because playing AvaGlide is the most chilled out I have been whilst playing a game in ages.

It’s very easy to pass AvaGlide by on the X360. It is an indie game after all and they’re never well publicised, but mostly because it has part of the word ‘avatar’ in its title which is almost always a clear sign that the game will be excruciatingly painful to play yet inexplicably sell more than Breath of Death or AppleJack because people like to see their virtual-selves (word of advice, no matter how many times you ask different people, and no matter how many times they assure you it does, it really doesn’t look anything like you. No, not even the hairstyle) on the screen. Ironically this is the one avatar game people should buy but, judging by the number of reviews submitted for it, don’t appear to be.

In good company

AvaGlide is undoubtedly a clone of the SNES classic Pilotwings with a hint of Monkey Target from Monkey Ball, and that’s good company to be in. Taking control of your avatar and flying (gliding?) him/her/it around three different locations, going through rings, dropping off parcels or collecting stars, is rather therapeutic. There is certainly challenge there for those that want it, both in terms of difficulty and via online leaderboards, but it’s never going to be one to get the adrenaline pumping.

My first hour with AvaGlide was spent improving my time on the first island so I could get in to the top 100 on the online leaderboard. I hadn’t even tried delivering parcels (by far my favourite challenge of the game) or collecting stars or even ventured off to one of the other two islands; I had been more than happy chilling out trying to knock a few tenths off of my time. Now usually this would involve me getting stressed, restarting after every mistake and cussing at the screen. But with AvaGlide this didn’t happen. Even when I made a mistake and I knew I couldn’t improve my time, I was quite happy to just carry on anyway, listen to the music, gently glide around the air and take in the cries of a seagull and the faint lap of water on the shore. It might sound a little twee, but it was genuinely tranquil.

Visually it’s very SEGA and as mentioned above the audio suits the game perfectly. And even though it’s undoubtedly better suited as a game to chill out with, it also manages to provide just enough challenge to satiate a score-attack gaming quench. However despite how much I enjoyed it, and despite it costing only 80pts (which is somewhere between 58p-68p depending on where you buy your points from), it doesn’t quite offer enough to obtain five stars, an accolade I wouldn’t hesitate to give to any of Applejack, Breath of Death or I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!!1.

I feel almost guilty not giving it the full amount, especially with the online leaderboards, local multiplayer, three different islands and three different play modes, but I can’t. I can’t because, if I’m honest, the appeal does wear off after two-three hours and, while you could argue the same for ‘I MAED A GAM3…’, that still manages to get the adrenaline pumping in ten minute bursts after that time. And, if I’m honest, that’s probably what I want most from gaming. It’s true that some nights I want to unwind, and I shall most likely resort to AvaGlide in those instances where I want to play and perhaps beat a few scores but relax at the same time, but it’s not often going to be the game I turn the X360 on for, or choose to play when I’m absent-mindedly flicking through the menus.

But don’t let that put you off what is otherwise a steal of a game. It still can’t remove the stress of the wireless controller flashing at you even though it still has 12 hours of battery life left, but otherwise it’ll provide a few hours of enjoyable, stress-free entertainment that shouldn’t get you into any trouble with the law. Highly recommended.

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