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Published on August 10th, 2010 | by Cameron Woolsey

AvaGlide – Indie Review

Coming out of HaikuInteractive, AvaGlide is an avatar-based game that features (if the name didn’t clue you in) avatars hang gliding over several different courses. Typically you won’t really find many hang gliding games out there on the market–probably because of the difficulty of making it fun–but AvaGlide is an exception. At the risk of downplaying the rest of the review, I want to go ahead and admit that AvaGlide is by far one of the most impressive Xbox Indie Games that I have played.

There are many Xbox Indie games on the market that boast some great visuals, but AvaGlide went beyond what I expected. Graphically speaking, this game looks like it could have been created by a seasoned and reasonably well-funded game developer. Colors are bright and pleasing and the water effects are very well done. The music and sound effects are also very good.

Gameplay-wise, things can get tricky. While the controls are tight and responsive, I found that the learning curve is moderately steep. Well, it is hang gliding after all; it isn’t supposed to be easy. With good wind speed, flying forward through the air takes little effort. But like actual hang gliding, pointing the nose up too high can cost you momentum. Lose too much speed and you’re little avatar is taking the fast way down into the side of a mountain or into a lake. It takes practice to be able to master how to correctly point the nose and continue your forward momentum while you fly. Often times I found it necessary to point my nose up and slowly rise in altitude before pointing back down again giving me a needed speed boost to go over a tricky mountain pass. However, AvaGlide is not a hang gliding simulator; moving through the air is exaggerated and arcade-y, and swarms of birds on a mountain signify an updraft that you can use to help you gain some much-needed altitude. The game takes practice to truly master but the rewards are worth it. The game really can be a blast to play. HaikuInteractive has also included a Free Flight mode that can be utilized to practice your flying.

There are three different game types: Ring Rush, Delivery Dash, and Free Flight, which I just covered for you. Ring Rush is where I found myself spending the most amount of time. It is a race through floating rings where you must utilize your mad flying skills and collect stars while trying to beat the clock and grab the gold medal. Delivery Dash places you in a large open arena populated by enormous red and white targets challenging players to drop boxes at precisely the right moment so that the box can bounce into the center bulls-eye. Getting the right feel for when to drop the box is challenging but it feels good to hit it at just the right spot.

AvaGlide features an active leader board that will display how many points a player has above you at the bottom right of the screen so you may try and reach that level and surpass it. Several times I found myself watching my points, willing them to rise faster so that I can shame XxN00bzPWN420xX with his meager little point score, bwahaha! It’s the little things that help make AvaGlide fun to play. But if you don’t feel like outscoring gamers with stupid names, you can bring in three other people to split screen the game and challenge each other to find out who the best glider among your group is.

Overall I enjoyed my time with AvaGlide. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a hang gliding game, but I certainly didn’t count on it being as nice as it ended up being. Honestly, I would have expected to see a game like this come in a pack of games from Microsoft when they first started to promote avatars. The fact that they never put out anything is still a mystery, but luckily we have developers like HaikuInteractive giving us the kind of avatar-based games that we should have expected but never received. With impressive production values and tight gameplay, AvaGlide is a dollar very well spent.

[xrr label=”Rating: 8.5/10″ rating=8.5/10]

+ High production values – presentation
+ Challenging yet fun to play
+ A big package for a cheap price
– Moderately steep learning curve

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About the Author

Video game journalist since 2006, and gaming since he was old enough to use an Atari joystick. Follow me: @Cam_is_16bit

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