If you stripped every truly unnecessary element from a game, leaving only the most fun, core gameplay mechanics, you’d have Yin Yang BANG BANG. The second project from John Butler, founder of Moose Knuckle Games, YYBB is a minimalist, endless runner for Android and iOS.
In YYBB, you must divide your attention between guiding your protagonist (in this case, the black or white dot of a Yin Yang symbol) and tapping incoming shapes to change their color. Running into shapes of the opposite color cause your dot to shrink and eventually die, while shapes of matching color will increase your dot’s size, consequently making it more difficult to dodge opposite colored shapes. This mechanic ensures a player-regulated, progressing level of difficulty, making the game more or less difficult based on your performance.
To keep you on your toes, your dot will also occasionally flip from one color to the other. Your score is tallied by multiplying your time with your largest size and, in one of the few instances of color in YYBB, this total explodes into a flurry of bouncing shapes you must then tap as quickly as possible. The faster you pop the shapes, the higher your ultimate score.
While the unique, minimalist, hand-painted art-style and far-east audio harmonize with the peaceful, Taoist theme, the gameplay is far from calming. The concept is easy enough for anyone to pick up and play, but simultaneously guiding your dot while tapping the incoming shapes gets tricky in a hurry. When there’s a lot of “enemies” on screen, it’s easy to accidentally tap the wrong color, turning friendlies into enemies, or simply miss your taps altogether. Early on, I was missing my targets so often, I thought the game was actually failing to register the taps.
However, after I noticed the subtle gray circle displayed where I’d actually tapped, I realized I was just missing. After I began to lead fast-moving targets, my score increased dramatically. I also found it easier to accurately target the incoming shapes on an iPad, but with the much larger screen, the hectic portions of the game became dizzying.
Unlike many mobile games, Yin Yang BANG BANG is most suited the the platform on which it’s presented, knowingly utilizing touchscreen controls instead of trying to recreate an analog control scheme. As the speed of the game requires concentration and your full attention, YYBB actually pauses when you remove your guiding thumb from the screen, preventing you from accidentally dying when you’re forced to look away from your device.
Minimalist to the core, what you see is what you get with Yin Yang BANG BANG. There are no multiplayer or alternative modes, so if you have no desire to improve your own high score and climb leaderboards, you may get bored quickly.
However, true to it’s theme, the single $0.99 purchase buys you the entire game and there are no in-app purchases, which makes climbing the leaderboard possible only through determination and pure skill. If you’d like some Yin Yang BANG BANG for your buck, check it out when it becomes available in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store on February 15th.