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We come back to this time and time again, but if you design your game towards encouraging
people to spend money on In-App Purchases, it should at most be a gentle nudge, and you
should most definitely not have your entire game feel like a hampered grind. Little Amazon
sadly falls in this latter category. Lily is trying not only to flee the clutches of
the evil demon Gruul, but is trying to save the entire kingdom by running faster than
she's ever run before. In a neat addition, the story of her escapades is slowly revealed
by reaching certain marathon milestones as you play this endless runner, but the main
question on everyone's mind is of course how it plays in the first place.
Like most endless runners, this is about jumping, but Little Amazon also adds a shooting mechanic.
Both are triggered by their respective buttons in the bottom corners of the screen, and running
is automatic. An early purchase in the store allows Lily to climb up a small step if a
jump falls a little short, but the allowance of this ability is quite, well let's say specific.
The jump is a little floaty, and that's fine actually, but what's really at the core of
the problem here has to do with the way the levels are procedurally designed, and the
lack of reaction time afforded the player.
You can upgrade your ghost bird attack to fire more and more projectiles in one shot
(you get five before you have to find a recharge sphere), but like a lot of the incoming ledges
needed to be jumped to and from, shooting enemies requires almost cat-like reflexes.
Most of the time, your reaction to shoot or jump will be far too late, Lily will be captured,
and you'll have to start the whole thing over again. If you're lucky, you'll find Splash,
your companion who basically gives you a do-over upon being hit, but this is a band-aid over
quite the gusher of a design flaw.
And more than an oversight, this seems to be tied into the game's flow of constantly
visiting the store. Perhaps the frustration of dying so many times is meant to get the
player to spend money, but even taking the time to grind out some upgrades (quite a tedious
process we might add), they didn't change this factor at all. A pity because presentation
is quite nice, and some of the future upgrades look like they could be fun, but players don't
like to be bullied to spend money, and if you hamstring us, all the neat little toys
in the world cant mask a flawed experience.