rodeo02I’m an animal lover, always have been, though I don’t think I’d ever see myself riding an elephant or zebra any time soon. I also can’t see myself running my own zoo, because money and some such nonsense. Luckily for me, Rodeo Stampede combines both animal riding and zoo keeping in a unique format, all from the comfort of my mobile phone. Because nothing speaks to me more than living out my dreams on the couch.

At first glance, Featherweight Games have built an endless runner with a simple control mechanic that has you jumping and riding various safari animals. Tap and hold on the touch screen to begin, then let go to have your rider flung forward. The aim is to keep jumping between the animals, with money crates hidden amongst the foliage on the track. But upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that running is only half of the game. You’re actually out to tame animals as you ride them in order to add them to your own zoo, which I might add is a top a zeppelin of sorts. Very cool.

The rodeo part of the title comes into play as you ride. You start each run on either a default animal or one of your choice, and eventually they’ll try to kick you off. Certain animals run faster than others, some can plough through trees or other creatures, and some will try to kick you off as fast as possible. If you want to aim for the highest possible score, you’ll have to spend some hard earned cash on your animal displays in order to increase the amount of time you can ride your elephants or bison before they kick you off.

A lot of recent indie studios seem to take elements from existing games and fold them into their own ideas, see the influx of Crossy Road concepts for example. Here however, everything feels unique. The running is endless, sure, but there’s some kind of meaning and purpose behind it instead of just going the distance. The zoo portion helps to break up the action, though there isn’t a great deal to it until you’ve unlocked some of the bigger portions of the map. Visually, though using the blocky character concept, there’s a nice level of detail and polish to the world and the character designs.

Each zoo visit by patrons brings in a certain amount of income based on how well your Zoo looks and the animals you have on show. My only real problem here stems from how long it is between zoo visits, meaning I have to wait a decent chunk of the day before I can earn another pay packet. Annoying as the wait might be, there’s a solid endless runner to ride the time away and plenty of locations to visit, I just wish it wasn’t six hours at a time. There’s no complex building mechanics like a Zoo Tycoon either, though I wouldn’t have complained if there had been a few extra income methods like popcorn stands or rides, just to mix things up a bit.

Kids will no doubt gain the most from playing Rodeo Stampede, the combination of colourful graphics and easy gameplay making it an obvious choice. Be aware though that there are in-app purchase options, allowing you to buy extra gold to improve your zoo faster. It’s a nice option for adults who hate waiting (yes, me included) but just be careful if you pass your phone to your eager child.

Rodeo Stampede is an enjoyable experience. I was pleasantly surprised by its unique gameplay ideas, simple enough for players of any age to get involved with but on the right side of a challenge for adults who want to ‘capture them all’. There’s future landmasses in the works to add even more animals, and I can see it evolving further as it goes. Throwing this out there, as soon as they add dinosaurs you know I’m going to be even more hooked than I am now.

You can play Rodeo Stampede today for free on iOS and Android phones and tablets. Go check it out and let us know what you think.

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Mark Isaacson is a freelance journalist and editor of PN2. Go say hi @Mark_D_Isaacson.

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