Finding games that really push the Nexus S to the limit of its processing power are surprisingly hard to come by. Out of all the graphic-heavy HD games I’ve tried so far, only one has been able to really stress the device: Dillo Hills. I originally found Dillo Hills by searching for Tiny Wings, an iOS game, in the Android Market. Dillo Hills isn’t necessarily a clone of Tiny Wings, but it’s pretty close. The first thing that stood out to me, and made my wonder how the Nexus would handle Dillo Hills, is this line in the game’s Market description: “We strongly encourage you to download and run the free version of game to see if it is compatible with your device before purchasing or reviewing the game.” Never have I ever… seen an app that encourages writers to shy away from reviews. Could it really be that intense? A game so advanced that you need to download the trial before purchasing, or reviewing? It was after reading that line, that I knew what I had to do. I had to download Dillo Hills, and give it a thorough review.
Available in both Lite and paid ($0.99) forms, Dillo Hills requires Android 2.2 and up since Adobe Air is a necessity to play. Both versions of the game are on v1.1.9, and 7.9M in size. For the purpose of this review, I’ll be taking a look at the paid version.
When first starting Dillo Hills, you are presented with everything you can possibly do in the game, accompanied by some soothing acoustic guitar. You can choose to view the leader-boards, choose your character, shop, quit, play, and view the options.
The leader-boards, quit, and play choices are all pretty self explanatory. There are daily, national, and all-time leader-boards available to compare your score against, play starts the game, and quit lets you, well, quit. Should you decide to just press play, without changing your character, visiting the shop, or changing the options, all those choices from the opening screen just disappear, and you’re ready to go.
By default, you start out as an armadillo (this is the only character available in the Lite version of the game). Your ‘dillo sits on the top of a big hill, and you quickly learn you have to touch near the bottom of the screen to make him roll down it (if you touch near the top, you glide). Once you get to the bottom of said hill, you stop touching the screen to see him fly. If you hit the ground without rolling into the down slope of a hill, you lose progress to your happiness meter. If your happiness meter goes all the way down, it’s a game over. This is the basis for the entire game. There are crystals to collect (for speed boosts and shopping money), mushrooms for bouncing on, and birds that give you a speed boost and bounce, but 90% of the game is going up and down hills. Fortunately for the developer, Justin Smith, that’s all you need for a good time. Of course thanks to the other options available on the main page, you can further enhance the game.
In the paid version of Dillo Hills, you can change your character to one of three other animals that wish they could fly. There’s a squirrel, a racing turtle, and my personal favorite, a penguin. Gameplay doesn’t change based on which animal you’re using, but you can unlock and purchase different things for each one.
The shop features two main areas titled hats and upgrades. Hats are unlocked by completing tasks within the game, and are simply for customizing your character. Upgrades are slightly different. By using the crystals you collect throughout the game, you can purchase four additional levels to your drop speed, crystal boost, time bonus, and damage reduction. The higher you get each stat, the easier it is to get further in the game.
As with nearly every game I’ve taken a look at so far in the Game Corner, the options are incredibly limited. Only accessible from the main page, you can enter the options to turn the sound on and off, play the tutorial, or change the graphics from normal to ultra — more on that below.
So here it is, the graphics and performance section of the review. The part where I finally get to elaborate on how well the game actually plays. First, I’d like to say that visually, the game is awesome. There was clearly a lot of time put into the graphics and animations. Colors really pop, which made for a visually pleasing experience, and animations, well, they really wanted to be smooth.
For the most part, Dillo Hills played fine on the normal graphics settings. Still, there was times when everything would stutter, or just completely stop. Other times, gameplay amassed to an overall choppy experience. I tried to find some sort of formula for achieving good gameplay, but it just sort of happened, or it didn’t. When it was good though, it was great. Which is why when everything is said and done…
… I urge everyone to give Dillo Hills a fair chance. The developer is constantly makes changes and working on optimizations, and even with the problems I’ve faced, I’ve spent a lot of time playing. I bought the paid version of Dillo Hills not because it always or sometimes played great on my Nexus S, but because I support the developer in his journey in optimizing and cleaning up a potentially fantastic game.
To download Dillo Hills and see how it works on your device, simply use the Market link below.