Rip Off, From Vietnam’s Colorbox, Brings Challenge, Color & Chaos to iPhone

Rip OffHere’s a little gem that slid under the radar. Rip Off is an iPhone title from Vietnamese developer Colorbox — whose previous titles include profiled app A.I.R. Defense — that, at first glance, looks like another Fruit Ninja clone in which players slice objects with their fingers. The game became part of OpenFeint’s Free Game of the Day, and promptly shot up to #2 on the top free iPhone apps list. Looks are definitely deceiving though as it certainly isn’t another Fruit Ninja game.

Rip Off still has the core mechanic of slicing objects with one’s finger, but unlike similar predecessors, players are bombarded with a sea of colorful enemies that come from every possible angle and boast abilities that fruit can only dream of. A score-based game centered strictly around survival, players will soon discover that the game, despite its beautiful and vibrant appearance, is actually one of the more challenging apps around.

Players control a single bird who apparently has some serious “ninja skills.” The bird’s parents are away, and it’s up to him to protect his brothers and sisters, who have yet to hatch from their eggs, from hordes of psychedelic and bizarre enemies by dashing back and forth to slice them up. Despite his avian agility, odds against the birds stack quickly until the player eventually fails. The score is based on time survived, enemies killed, combo kills, and so on. The idea is simply to beat one’s high score, and the high scores of others on OpenFeint.

It’s easy to get the gist of the game. In the center of the screen are three bird eggs, and all enemies that appear will move towards them. If they reach the eggs, they will pick them up and carry them off screen. If all three eggs are lost, then the game is over.

In order to prevent this, players swipe their finger across the screen to throw our hero bird right into the would-be thieves. Perhaps he is related to some other form of irritable fowl on the iOS?

Tractor BeamRegardless, unlike Fruit Ninja, the “slice” always begins from wherever the bird is currently located. It doesn’t affect much in terms of game play, but having the player avatar zip about the stage does add to the chaos.

What makes this game unique is that enemies come from every conceivable angle with some surprise abilities.

This is actually one of the key highlights to Rip Off. Enemies resemble bouncing pogo sticks, massive airships and bat-helicopter-things. Some will fly in form the sides, some will come straight down and hover, others bounce, while still others burrow beneath the earth. Whatever the case, players find themselves forced to focus on everything around them at all times.

There are even enemies that don’t have to reach the eggs to snag them. Some actually have tractor beams that pull the eggs to them from the edge of the screen. While this means players must be quick to attack, Colorbox throws in a bit of a dirty joke by making one enemy type a bouncing bomb. Accidentally hit one, and it’s game over. With that in mind, Rip Off becomes a very fine balance of twitch reaction, speed, and caution.

TrophiesNow, not all players are going to care about high scores. Because of this, Rip Off also comes with an objective system. These are achievements (such as protecting all three eggs for X amount of time). But unlike normal achievements, they cannot be seen until the previous one has been accomplished. What this does is create a set of artificial levels, giving users a new and more difficult goal every time they play.

As for any other merits, this game is fantastic looking. Highly-stylized, almost every creature has an oversaturated, abstract visual appeal to it. In fact, the primary player avatar is probably the least interesting looking out of everything. At least at first. After users play for a while, they will unlock various costumes (dubbed “Trophies”) for the avatar ranging from a watermelon to Batman.

Overall, Rip Off is definitely a game worth downloading; especially while it is free. Even when the price returns, however, it is still a fun game to play and worth a look. That said, the game, while visually attractive, is quite chaotic and challenging. As a disclaimer, it’s a game that may not be for more casual gamers, or at least not likely in the long term. Even so, as the #2 free iPhone app — at least temporarily — its popularity speaks for itself.