Review: AaAaAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Ages 13 and up
Genre: Sports
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2009
Review Published On: August 27th, 2016
Played on: Martha & Thaddeus

Available from:

Gamer's Gate, Steam

Save System:

Your progress is saved when you buy a new cube or complete a level.

Pausing the game can really throw off your attempt, but you can do this by hitting ESC if you're brave enough.

Summary of
Major Issues:

BASE jumping is an often illegal extreme sport, and true to form, mistakes can be fatal. During a jump, the player can perform rude gestures for extra points.


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A typical jump

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Dodge this

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Not quite a wormhole

Game Overview

BASE jumping is a real-world extreme sport that follows a really simple idea -- finding a tall building, structure or cliff, jumping out into the air, and controlling your descent using parachutes or wing suits. It's quite dangerous, potentially illegal, and I wouldn't recommend doing it yourself. Fortunately for those of us that aren't athletically inclined, Dejobaan Games has produced AaAaAa -- A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, a game that lets us try our hand at BASE jumping in a surreal world of floating buildings.

It's also not as simple as falling past the local architecture. There is a scoring system, which tallies up your "hugs" and "kisses" along with the value of any score plates you broke on your way down. Earning hugs and kisses is pretty intuitive: getting close to a structure earns you a "kiss", while staying near it earns you "hugs". Once you've safely landed in the target area at the bottom of the level, your jump will be rated out of five possible stars and you'll be awarded "teeth". In turn, teeth are used to unlock new levels or extra content.

Of course, the catch behind these jumps is similar to the real life sport: fail to open your parachute in time or fly into something hard, and you'll completely forfeit your score for that jump. Oh, and some unfortunate EMT will be spending their weekend scraping you off the pavement.

Points of Interest

Fast, one-way trips
Once you step off of the starting platform, the only way to go is down. If you land on anything (using your parachute or not) the jump is over. Most of the time, if you're not landing on the landing pad, the landing wasn't exactly planned, meaning you probably didn't use the parachute.
You control the pace of progression
In order to unlock new levels or abilities, you buy them from the cylindrical level grid. Since you get to chose which levels to buy, this lets you control how difficult things get. Purchasing a level is a one-time charge, so you don't need to stock up on extra teeth until you reach the really expensive levels later on.
New abilities are unlocked slowly
You start the game with just your parachute and a lot of daring. As you progress, new abilities can be bought from the level grid, just like a normal level. These new features allow you to earn more points either by adding optional challenges or by making it easier to handle the high speeds.
High scores by level
Each level has its own list of high scores. When you select a level, you can see how well other people have done on it and your own high score. Granted, since this game has been around for a while people have earned some insanely high scores.
Steam Achievements
For that extra trimming, there are a small number of achievements that can be earned as you fling yourself off buildings. Most of these follow the bland pattern of "perform X action Y number of times", so you'll probably earn most of them easily enough if you just keep playing.
Very little margin for error
Taking risks either pays off or offs you. There really isn't much of an in-between here; it only takes a slight bump against a building to send you flying around uncontrollably. Once that happens there usually isn't enough time for you to regain control before you become a grease stain on a rooftop.
Later levels are very costly
Buying new levels is a good idea, but it tends to be counter-productive once the price of new levels is high enough. The levels on the far side of the grid are extremely hard, and naturally enough, extremely expensive. It's going to take a lot of grinding to be able to afford them all.

Concerns and Issues

Teeth are the in-game currency
Normally, games would use gold, dollars, euros, gems or some other form of simple money. Being a game based on an extreme sport, this game takes a different approach and calls the unit of currency "teeth". Higher scores reward you with more teeth, and an unusually large number of them as well. Where any of these came from is anybody's guess.
Some audio scene cubes are unsettling
Instead of opening access to a new level, some of the cubes on the grid just play a short sound recording. These range from a guide to reduce stress to an unsettling set of instructions for how to disassemble your bristle pig. There is also a clip about a grandmother that uses her relative's cremated remains as the secret ingredient in her cookies. Purchasing these clips is entirely optional, and sometimes not really worth it.
Failure equals death
Landing on things at terminal velocity tends to result in a rather permanent mark on your record, if you get my drift. No blood or gore is shown, though the screen becomes red tinted and obscured by static while an ambulance's sirens are heard.
Bad behaviors earn bonus points
Two of the unlockable abilities include the "flip it" glove and a spray can. The former allows you to interact with spectators by either giving them a thumb's up gesture or by making an insulting gesture. Matching the gesture to the spectators' opinion of your jump (thumb's up for fans, insults for the critics) earns you bonus points for that jump.

Along the same lines, the spray can allows you to spray graffiti onto specifically marked buildings. Successfully spray painting a building earns more points, while failing to mark a building does nothing (though it can result in you being dangerously off course).
Suggestive images
Some of the levels feature giant floating billboards. Many of these are for science fiction themed games or some natural product, but in a few levels these depict bikini clad women. Several of these cheesecake advertisements feature a tagline that simply reads "You'll buy whatever we're selling", which is surprisingly honest for marketing.
Base jumping is illegal in-game
Although you never get in trouble for it, there are references throughout the game that, due to public safety concerns, BASE jumping from the floating buildings isn't legal. This is reflecting the real life legalities of the sport; while there are places where it's legal, many BASE jumpers trespass in order to find a good place to jump from.