Robots – at least in the Power Hover: Cruise universe – are masochists.
Three years ago, we followed the adventures of a lone robot hoverboarder, chasing a villain who’d stolen village-powering batteries. In Power Hover, we gawped at giant machinery marching across the desert, and grappled with slippy controls that made the game feel like no other, yet afforded a unique, exhilarating sense of grace and speed when mastered.
Most of the game was heavily choreographed. All of it was eye-dazzlingly beautiful. But at the conclusion to every chapter of the loose narrative came the thump of a boss level that abruptly transformed a minimalist mobile Journey into a hard-as-nails 3D endless runner.
Judging by Power Hover: Cruise, the robot’s original quest is complete, but it just couldn’t get enough of being smashed to pieces in tunnels.
Mercifully, Power Hover: Cruise doesn’t make you work to unlock any of its seven challenges – they’re all available from the off. It just makes you work for everything else.
You might start by barrelling along the insides of a pyramid, before realising it was seemingly built by a psychotic pharaoh with a penchant for laser death and making the entire world spin until you’re sick. Or in the gorgeous Air stage, you belt along a tube-like track that snakes through the air, which within seconds starts tossing you about as you desperately arc your way past whirling wheels of doom, and massive spikes that shoot out of the ground.
This continues in each of the other five stages, which find their own inventive and ruthless ways in which to kill you time and time again. And although regular, abrupt death can frustrate, you rapidly realise that Power Hover: Cruise isn’t remotely unfair – every death is down to your lack of ability. Basically, it’s all your fault.
It’s not like the controls are complex either. You prod the left or right of the screen to head in that direction. The board’s inertia takes a while to get used to, but once mastered feels fluid and natural. Success is then down to discovering the many distinct obstacles in each challenge, learning their patterns, and having the timing to get past them rather than being zapped into a small pile of scrap metal. Easy! Or rather: very, very much not easy.
With enough time and practice, though, Power Hover: Cruise clicks. You’ll understand the character of each stage, and go on the kind of blistering, exhilarating runs where you slalom like an Olympic medalist, before eventually coming a cropper as an ecstatic pile of nuts and bolts.
Get enough points and the game bestows on you a gold star, and perhaps even a new character that can take a hit or two. Then you’ll want to head back into every stage again, to better your score; this despite knowing Power Hover: Cruise has no end, and will keep hurling things at you until you die.
Like we said: masochists.
Power Hover: Cruise is available for Android. (It was previously released for iOS; that version has only five challenges – an update is due in March.) The game is ad-supported, but 89p removes the ads forever. You can buy new characters, too, if you don’t fancy unlocking them by getting high scores.
A spin-off that often eclipses the original game, and one of the finest endless runners on Android
Seven varied challenges to try
Looks and sounds superb
Responsive, fluid controls
Very regular ads (although, y’know, it’s only 89p to remove them…)