Track & Tricks, Nebula Entertainment's latest release, is a sports game with a twist. The game mechanics are deceptively simple: to drive your running avatar forward, you must rhythmically tap a heart hovering above its head. You must also keep watch of your gathering stamina, which you can deplete in spectacular sprinting bursts.
And if all that hard work is not paying off for you, and opponents insist on taking the lead, there's always the possibility of leaving pleasantries behind. A collection of power-ups lets you, for instance, throw a banana peel on the opponent's track and see them take the fall, to your gain. Power-ups are provided in Mario Kart-style mistery boxes, and additional ones can be purchased at the game store as in-app purchases.
"We wanted to take the traditional track & field game to another level," says Juan Mejias, game designer at Nebula. "Traditionally, this has been a genre of button-bashing, but we saw that touch-screen devices required a different approach. Plus this is consistent with our goal of making a fun and approachable game". As for the bananas, "We just thought they would be great fun."
In the iOS version, the game is structured in two modes: Compete, where you fight for a gold medal in three-round tournaments, and Challenge, where you can dare any Game Center user to an online turn-based competition.
"Using a turn-based system for a running game is actually a pretty novel proposition. We haven't heard of any examples". After each race, you are presented with your speed level, which you can increase by completing missions in Jepack Joyride style. You start off as a rock, and advance to an undisclosed 16th level. "I'm not telling, but you can't easily get faster than that. And no, it's not light, that would be too easy."
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Track & Tricks 1.1 is only $0.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide through the App Store in the Games category. It is also available free for android on Google Play.