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Review: Hill Climb Racing

At a Glance

This game is recommended!
This game is not just good fun, it also stays fairly true to Christian moral values, making it a great addition to anyone's library!

ESRB Rating: E - Everyone
My Rating: Ages 6 and up
Genre: Endless Runner
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2013
Review Published On: January 16, 2017
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Microsoft Store

Save System:

Your progress is saved at the end of a run or whenever you purchase an upgrade, vehicle, or stage.

Summary of
Major Issues:

There isn't much to worry about here; at worst, you'll hear the driver's bones snap if they touch any part of the stage. There are also advertisements on certain screens, though they are very unobtrusive.


[view screenshot]
Dirt bike meets dirt road

[view screenshot]
Tank vs Skeleton

[view screenshot]
Huston, we have no problems

Game Overview

If you had to pigeonhole Hill Climb Racing into a specific genre, most of us would probably call it an endless runner. After all, your primary goal is to get as far to the right as you can, and the game ends when your driver is injured or you run out of gas. However, this game doesn't really follow the typical formula for that genre.

To start with, endless runners usually have the protagonist heading to the right of the screen at all times; you simply try to have them dodge whatever obstacles are in their way and the level ends when they stop moving. In this game, you control how fast you're going, and you can come to a stop or even drive in reverse. One of the main reasons for this is that physics plays a large part in how well you can progress; steep hills require some effort to climb, so you might find yourself needing to give yourself enough room to build up speed.

Another deviation from the traditional rules is that your score isn't based on how far you travel. Instead, it's based on the coins you pick up and the stunts you perform along the way. That's not to say that distance doesn't entirely matter; you do get bonuses for travelling a long distance. But, you only get these bonuses once. In order to get another bonus, you'll need to travel farther in a future attempt.

These attempts can be ended in two ways. Firstly, your vehicle requires fuel of some sort. As time passes, the amount of fuel remaining depletes, and since the controls only work while there's fuel, an empty tank results in you losing control or simply drifting to a stop. You can replenish your fuel by collecting fuel cans placed along the level, though there's no guarantee that you'll find one in time.

The other thing to watch for is your driver's safety. He's not wearing a helmet or any sort of protection, so if he collides with part of the level (such as the road or a ceiling) he'll be "downed" and the game ends. You'll know when he's hurt, as you'll hear the sound of his bones breaking and watch him tumble off the vehicle. This is actually harder to prevent than it sounds. Applying the brake or the gas at the wrong time can result in the vehicle flipping over, and it's even easier for them to roll when they go airborne.

At the end of each level, you'll be presented with a screenshot you can share on social media and a list of stats about the last game. From there you're returned to the game's menus, where you can spend the coins and gems you've earned.

Despite the simple premise, this is a fun game. If you're looking for a new timewaster, pick this game up.

Points of Interest

Lots of vehicles
And I do mean a lot of vehicles: there are several bikes, a handful of cars, numerous trucks, and even some sillier options like a moon lander or Santa's sleigh. None of these are just reskins of a generic base either, as they all have some unique qualities about them. For example, the bikes tend to be better at performing flips during jumps, while heavier vehicles are more suited to plow through objects blocking your path. Every vehicle can also be upgraded in four different ways, improving the way it handles.

Additionally, once you have 300 gems, you can unlock the garage. This portion of the game allows you to try building your own custom vehicle using parts you can acquire in various ways. These custom vehicles can also be upgraded and tweaked in more ways than the normal vehicles, allowing you to create just the right vehicle to tackle a specific level.
Many levels to play
There's a surprisingly large selection of levels in this game. You have your typical options of grassy hills, sandy beaches, a highway and a cave, but more exotic locations like the moon, mars and a nuclear plant are also present. Speaking of "presents", there are a few holiday themed levels for you to try out. Just be cautious: several levels have ceilings, weird gravity, or even moving platforms. All of these can end your trip in a hurry if you're not expecting them.
High scores are recorded by vehicle
Each level maintains its own high scores, allowing you to see just how far you've progressed. Not only does it record your maximum distance, but it also records how far you've gone with each vehicle. This can be a useful metric, as each of the vehicles has their own niche. The moon lander, for example, is best at outer space levels like the moon or the surface of mars, but it's not a great choice for levels with normal gravity. On a side note, the custom vehicles are all ranked together, so regardless of what you change, the old record will remain until you surpass it.
Gems come easily
Although they are the game's premium currency and can be purchased with real money, you probably won't need to ever do so. Played well, each trip through a level will net you about fifteen gems, and since there isn't much to spend them on, they add up fairly quickly.
While these aren't achievements in the usual sense -- ie, they won't show up on your profile -- you can earn a number of awards by performing various actions within the game. Some of these seem to be humorous nods at your persistence, such as "Live Fast Flip Young", which is earned by snapping the driver's neck within five seconds of starting a level.
Ad supported
There's a banner ad shown on the various menus and stat screens, but otherwise the ads are very unobtrusive. Occasionally, you'll be offered a chance to get a free upgrade in return for watching a short video ad. This offer usually shows up when your current vehicle hasn't had many upgrades, so it's easily worth it just to save the coins.
Crates are random
The parts found in the various types of crates are randomized, making it a complete gamble as to whether or not you'll get the right part when you open a crate. Since you need multiples of a part to upgrade it, this can easily mean spending a lot of gems on crates in an attempt to find the parts you want. Fortunately, there aren't that many parts to choose from, and each tier of crate simply increases the rarity of the parts you can find. Thus, if you need a common part, buy a lot of "lunchbox" crates, which are inexpensive and guaranteed to have many common parts.
Menus only respond to arrow navigation
This is probably the biggest complaint I have with this game: several of the menus don't respond to the scroll wheel or the mouse at all. To scroll on these menus, you need to use the up and down arrow keys. This feels very weird, as you can scroll with the mouse elsewhere in the game.

Concerns and Issues

In game purchases
You can purchase more coins, gems, and part crates using real money if you really want to. The button for the in-game store is prominently displayed on the menus, but you should be able to get very far into (or even complete) the game without spending real money on anything. Honestly, you can earn everything quickly enough just by playing the game, so this isn't really needed. On the other hand, buying anything with real money also disables the banner ads shown at points throughout the game, which might be useful to you.
Bone snapping accidents
No matter how fast you're going, whenever your driver touches any part of the level, their neck will snap with an audible crunch and they'll collapse dead wherever they happened to be. If you're not careful, a lot of your games are going to end this way, so you'll be hearing a lot of bones breaking over time.
Special themed levels introduce some monsters
The Halloween level has spooky jack o' lanterns, haunted houses, graveyards, and walking skeletons. The graves and spooky houses are just there for decoration, but you'll need to run over the pumpkins and skeletons in order to proceed. There is also a level called Ragnarok, which has a Norse theme and replaces the coins with floating creatures of some sort. Despite their appearance, these creatures are still just coins and are meant to be collected.