Hill Bill, the story of a Hillbilly daredevil who jumped over the Grand Canyon
Evel Knievel was the most notable American daredevil as throughout his life he did over 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps, most of them successful. His audience was ecstatic each time he organized a show and he was risking his life as Roman gladiator to please the crowds. Judging by the fact that he had over 430 broken bones during his career and that he’s the current holder of the World Record for surviving these many, he did the best he could to become an American icon. His dream that he kept repeating was to jump over the Grand Canyon, though he only achieved it partially as he failed a jump over Snake River Canyon. He died in 2007 but his spirit will live on forever, as you can think of him while playing ‘Hill Bill’, a game where you have to help a hillbilly to achieve what Evel couldn’t, jump over the Grand Canyon.
Hill Bill was developed by Balloon 27 (B27), an indie development company with offices in the US and Japan for which diversity is a gift. ‘Hill Bill’ is the first title they released, with two other games to follow soon (Tree of Light’ and ‘Arc runners’).
‘Hill Bill’ is a motorcycle trick jumping game in which the star is Bill, a hillbilly that wants to become greater than Evel Knievel. So he starts to build his own ramps, assembles a junkyard motorcycle and goes on to jump with his bike and do tricks that grow in difficulty. Once he’s tired of his own backyard tricks, he moves to other locations like the race tracks or circus, with the Knievel aspiration to do tricks over the Grand Canyon as well. With a beautifully fitting design, the game consists of six different worlds each with 10 levels. To pass a level you have to jump over the built ramp and land safely on the other side, however if you want to get three stars you’ll have to do tricks while doing this. The video below shows a collection of tricks Bill can do:
To master the game you’ll have to understand how far off the ramp you have to position the bike and how fast to ride it. All of this while learning new trick combinations that you can do on the ground or in the air. When the game starts, you’ll see several slides that basically tell you the story of Bill and his daredevil aspirations. These skippable story presentations are fun and you’ll view more as you progress through the levels. They’re fun as they put a story behind the game itself, so it’s not just jumping around doing tricks, it’s also about helping Bill.
In each level, Bill is on his bike waiting for instructions from you. Tap and swipe right to see the entire level scenery and understand how far you have to jump and how much time you have to do tricks. After that, tap on the bike and you’ll see you can move it left or right, closer or farther from the ramp depending on your estimation. When you’re ready, just tap on the icon in the lower right corner and you’ll see the speedometer that you tap and hold to increase the speed of the bike. As you play several levels you’ll get a handle on how to adjust this distance to land safely. At the beginning of most levels you also get tips on what tricks you can do and you learn quite a few actually. Doing the tricks requires just to do a gesture on the screen (i.e. dragging down, or left and down) and Bill will move accordingly. The more tricks you do in a level, the more coins you’ll get and up to three stars.
The purpose for each level is not to simply pass it, but to try and get the maximum three star rating and also as many coins as possible. For instance, doing no tricks you’ll most likely get a single star and 10/20 coins in the beginning levels. Doing tricks you get 2-3 stars and double or triple the amount of coins you receive. The coins can be spent in the ingame shop where you can buy different outfits for Bill and of course get better bikes. ‘Hill Bill’ is a fun experience and here’s the features you get when you install it:
- Easy gameplay. The gameplay isn’t difficult, all you have to do is tap a button to accelerate and jump over the ramp. However, if you want to master the game you’ll also have to act fast and do some gestures while you jump, to earn extra coins and a better rating. The game moves at your own pace, so when a level starts you can drag to see the entire scenery and decide how you should approach the jump. Then move Bill and his bike farther from the ramp, accelerate (while doing ground tricks) and finally jump obviously while doing some air tricks as well.
- Daredevil tricks. The tricks will get Bill his fame, the more dangerous they are, the better. In almost each level you learn a new trick which you can perform by doing a screen gesture. That’s how you pull a ‘Superman’, ‘Can can’, ‘Heart attack’ and dozens other tricks for which you’ll be rewarded in star branded coins.
- Beautiful design. The design is well aligned with the theme of the game, starting from our hillbilly and his bike to the ramp and surrounding environment. I also liked the fact that the game starts with a small presentation where we learn our hero’s story, showing other chapters of this story as you’ll progress through the levels.
- 60 levels. Hill Bill has currently six different worlds you can play: Bill’s Backyard, The Swamp, Mud Rally, Race Track, The Circus and The Grand Canyon. Each of these worlds has ten levels that you can reply as often as you’d like for instance to improve your rating and get more coins. Only the first two worlds are available in the free version, but with a small fee you can get the others too. There’s also a world ‘in-the-works’ and the developer mentions that other levels, outfits and bikes are upcoming and will be soon available in the free version as well.
- In-game store. Right now you can upgrade Bill’s outfit and get a better bike if you have enough coins. Playing through a few levels I was able quickly to buy the next-in-line upgrade, so I like it when developers treat free users well (i.e. don’t force you into paying real money to get character upgrades). This means that if you replay some levels and get 3 stars for most of them, you’ll be able to get the best money can buy … literally.
- Free. The game is free to download and play for the first two worlds, meaning 20 re-playable levels. Others will follow and also will be included in the free version, so hooray.
‘Hill Bill’ is a fun game with excellent graphics and gameplay that you’ll enjoy for sure if you’ve liked for instance Angry Birds. It has a bit of the now industry-standard puzzle gameplay and rating style from AB, but brings on an innovative ground/air trick gestures. Even better since it’s free so I highly recommend you downloading it – help Bill achieve his dream of becoming Evel Knievel and why not, break the World record for most broken bones (pun intended).