Hurdle Turtle - Level Pack # 1

The fastest turtle in the world is back for more zany 8-bit arcade action in 3 all new levels! Join him and his new pal Pirate Turtle as they race to a banging chiptune soundtrack composed by Octapus! This companion to the original game can also be enjoyed as a standalone title.

Adam "Holmfry" Holmes is probably better known for his short Flash games prior to moving to XNA and Xbox 360 development. After the disappointing (from a shovelware non-game viewpoint) Ocean Scenes in January 2009, Holmes went on to embrace the 8-bit aesthetic with Pixel Whirled, a cute twist on Space Invaders featuring a pirate and a ninja who shoot down apples, skeletons, and squirrels among other things. His next XNA game, Hurdle Turtle, is a simple obstacle dodging game featuring turtles jumping over hurdles and dodging blockades in an endurance race. Holmes already brought an abbreviated Hurdle Turtle experience to Flash with Hurdle Turtle: Flash! and Hurdle Turtle: Halloween!, and now he's back with Hurdle Turtle - Level Pack # 1, an expansion of sorts for the original game.

The original Hurdle Turtle featured three courses to race over: The Slowpoke Mountains; Run, Tortoise! Run!; and Raceous Cretaceous! Hurdle Turtle - Level Pack # 1 offers three new courses: Metropolitan Madness!; Up the Beanstalk Without a Hurdle!; and Roy-Gee-Biv Boulevard. Just as with the first game, these courses are simply visual variants for what is basically the same course, new sprite themes slapped over the basic track course hurdles and cones. Existing Hurdle Turtle players interested in adding new themes to their experience may enjoy the additional backgrounds found here, although I find these new courses to be less imaginative compared to the first game's tracks. The city, desk, and rainbow just can't measure up to the dinosaurs and "woodland critters" in the initial release. Since there is no perceivable difference in gameplay from one course to the next, the I don't see this Level Pack providing any incentive to get people to buy more of the same with a different coat of paint.

Hurdle Turtle and this Level Pack do let players play off-line in two-player along with the extra tracks, so I suppose that's a possible justification for buying this console rendition. Hurdle Turtle - Level Pack # 1 is still a simple Flash game at heart, but I'm sure there are some people who would consider buying the game. Eighty points won't break most people's wallets after all, and the game is cute and kid friendly. The turtles are easily controlled with the analog stick, and the simple leaping gameplay does hold some appeal. Battletoads fans who enjoy the much hated third stage will feel right at home with the Hurdle Turtle games, these obstacle courses playing more or less the same but without the ramps and rats. The game begins nice and easy but gradually increases the speed of the scroll every ten meters until the turtle is moving so fast it will be leaping over multiple hurdles in a single bound. It's far from complex, but the endurance test can be fun in short spurts, and the game saves the best completion time per track to enhance the competition.

Yet beyond the simplistic gameplay, (intentionally) poor animation, and lack of content; my biggest complaint with the game is the soundtrack. Both Hurdle Turtle releases are excellently scored by chiptune composer Octapus , and the soundtrack will easily outlive the game itself. What bugs me is how abrupt the game over screen cuts off the music after the player exhausts the fourth and final turtle as well as the constant jump sound effect interrupting the music. Surely a sound test could be tacked onto the game's paltry 10.20 MB file size among other things? A cute concept will only carry one's project so far, and I don't see Hurdle Turtle being asked back by those who bought the first release with so little new content here.

Hurdle Turtle - Level Pack # 1 is a cute expansion no one asked for to a game of which most players will have their fill well beforen the trial demo timer expires. These sort of games are available for free on-line -- including this very game by this very developer -- and are a dime a dozen, making the purchase of just such a game a questionable proposition. Hurdle Turtle - Level Pack # 1 is worth a look for those who have local players to compete against and who don't already own the original. Otherwise, it's a short-lived diversion which quickly wears out its welcome despite the otherwise enjoyable presentation and music.

★★☆☆☆
February 24, 2011
February 18, 2011 | 80 points
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