While Robot Unicorn Attack had no business being so captivating or lively, something about a rainbow-maned unicorn chasing dreams to the magic of Erasure’s “Always” provoked a joyous high unobtainable anywhere else ... until now. While that psychedelic merriment still lingers within every polygon of Robot Unicorn Attack 2 – the series’ first real sequel – Adult Swim Games shows every intention of doing things bigger, better, and bolder. Community goals, power-ups, more music, and richer colors help developer PikPok innovate after multiple reskins of the original game, but I have not mentioned the best part: Robot Unicorn Attack 2 does not cost a cent.
The developers have not changed the gameplay (on the surface) substantially. With three wishes (i.e., lives), the legendary Robot Unicorn must repair the cosmos, collecting fairies, leaping over bottomless chasms, and dashing with prismatic bursts of speed that shatter crystalline stars. There are new obstacles to confront, however. Although golems crush hopes with their dangerous solar beams, your rainbow dash will deflect their lasers and break the giants’ rock-hard skin. As for the less perilous mechanics, colored rings activate score multipliers, and unicorn tears represent the game’s currency.
Other revisions to the Robot Unicorn name are instantly obvious, too. Your metal mustang soars through the air with more fluid, lifelike movements, while the weightier feel leads to less obscene jumps. But PikPok still makes up for the shorter leap distances with the option to fly. Unlock a pair of animatronic wings and your magical mare morphs into a lustrous alicorn, allowing you to ride the winds once your steed reaches top speed. The sudden freedoms of flight do not upset the endless runner genre, though they do revolutionize the series after three indisputably similar spin-offs.
The larger the golem, the greater the range of motion when firing its solar beam.
In any case, you need to complete challenges (jump through X loops, break X stars, etc.), rank up, and collect those aforementioned tears to access extra body parts. With a fair assortment of upgrades, players may fashion the prettiest pink pony of their dreams, forge a mechanical beast of the apocalypse, or what have you. Also, the levels provide steady streams of tears that never require fans to play more than an hour before that chromatic horn or mane of tendrils becomes theirs.
The various accessories do more than modify appearances; they alter an alicorn’s mobility. Wings affect the rate at which you ascend, horns determine the length of each dash, and manes dictate how often you may jump mid-air. These appendages tinker the game’s speed to the player’s liking, slowing or increasing the pacing, which this Robot Unicorn desperately needed (the offshoots felt too twitch-focused). Does that mean time will give rise to the de facto unicorn build when chasing high scores? Not necessarily. Just because you can escape inopportune falls does not mean the game removes the rapid reflexes required when dodging irregular rock formations.
Additionally, players may anticipate terrain changes in light of each level's consistent layout. In Robot Unicorn Attack, the world transformed with each wish granted. Here, the stages remain the same, at least for 24 hours. Wednesday’s Calm Plateau and Friday’s Calm Hill were vastly different geometry-wise, but every map contains multiple routes that, with your faithful wings, make aerial corrections much easier and more forgiving.
Don't let the electric mane, flaming hooves, or carbon frame fool you; unicorns only want to spread joy.
The cleaner presentation also prevents colors from running together after long hours, with a mix of more than just purple, brown, and blue eyesore hues. PikPok has crafted two superb environments: the Sky World and Ice World. Yeah, the names sound generic, but never have I seen such whimsical landscapes. Floating islands, elegant palaces, halcyon hills, pastoral plains, and other planets adorn the verdant/frozen vistas, while cyber unicorn whales, seahorse fortresses, and laser wolves capture the imagination of children’s fairy tales. Given the rich abstract artistry, Robot Unicorn Attack 2 remains a diorama of surprise and wonder.
The picturesque panoramas are not so distracting that fans are unlikely to notice the new default music. Module provides two ‘80s-influenced pop songs that mesh with the candy-colored art, but because of licensing issues (retaining the game’s freemium model would have been impossible otherwise), the main theme no longer sings of harmony and wanting to be with you. At least listeners may purchase “Always,” along with Slade’s “Run Runaway” and “The NeverEnding Story” by Limahl, for a measly dollar, which I was more than happy to since the game did not cost a dime.
Mind you, the soundtrack marks my only in-app purchase. You can buy more tears, though the transactions do not raid fans' wallets, asking players to eat ramen for a month, take out a second mortgage on the house, or neglect phone and car payments. The prices are very reasonable, and with one $20 fee, the 70,000 tears that nets you will buy every unicorn part, let you skip any challenge, and supply you with near-infinite power-ups for the next several months, weeks, or days (your addiction pending).
Players unlock the Ice World upon reaching level 15, or paying tears to access the stage early.
Concerning power-ups, these passive boosts will aid you on your quest to vanquish leaderboard rivals. Some boosts magnetize fairies and tears, pulling them to you. Other power-ups double or halve the time it takes to reach top speed, while another starts you with the power of flight. After every three wishes, players must pay for a fresh set of boosts, yet they cost mere hundreds of tears, and receive thousands for leveling up.
Players accumulate more currency when they help the community. At level six, you must choose one of two conflicting factions: Team Rainbow or Team Inferno (though you may switch at any time. The developers then foster the feud with daily competitions. The side that destroys the most stars at the end of 24 hours gains a nice tear bonus, but you contribute to cooperative goals when battling for control of the universe as well. Once the community amasses enough fairies or smashes the required amount of giants, everybody earns stars for their rank. Most endless runners make their case for the individual, yet PikPok argues for something more, for something less egocentric. Robot Unicorn Attack 2 fuels the fires of pride when you finally surpass others on the leaderboards, aid your team’s victory, and assist the community’s current mission.
While Robot Unicorn Attack sucker punched me, and many others, with its deceptively addictive charms, Robot Unicorn Attack 2 produces equally euphoric attitudes after being retooled completely. Among the harmonious beats of ‘80s music bliss, players reach moments of pure serenity, finding a rhythm just before that corrupt giant fries one's steed with its laser face. Then you restart, losing yourself all over again, oblivious to any outside problems. I rarely replay games after writing their respective reviews, but PikPok’s world of whimsy makes for one dream I never want to wake up from.
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Release Date: April 25, 2013
Number of Players: 1 (Campaign)
Platforms: iOS (Reviewed)