Consider as a case study three variations on what are essentially the same game:
In each, you launch your little person into the sky, get rewards that you can use to buy upgrades for your flight, and repeat until you hit the cap. “Better” means getting more upgrades faster.
Addressing art first, the hedgehog and the penguin have fairly similar, “cute little animal” looks, as opposed to the stick figures. The stacked stick figures, once you buy the groupie upgrades, are a bit busy and messy, but Hedgehog Launch has far busier look with all the things to hit.
Those things to hit are the biggest difference between the implementations. Each game gives you a little to do for the initial launch, rocket boosters, and something to do in the air. Learn to Fly has the least to do: adjust your angle. Shopping Cart Hero lets you adjust your angle and gives you some tricks. Hedgehog Launch has a variety of targets in the air, which you can use to increase your money and flight time.
These create differences in how the games feel. Learn to Fly is relatively stately. You glide. At later levels, there is a feeling of speed as you soar remarkably far, remarkably quickly. Shopping Cart Hero has a much busier feel as you frantically try to do tricks while maneuvering your cart into position for a safe landing. Hedgehog Launch involves a lot of steering and bouncing, rather than a unidirectional arc. It feels less frantic but more active, a user-directed tour rather than a dance while following your pre-determined path.
Learn to Fly and Shopping Cart Hero both have a standard horizontal progression, launching from one point to see how far you can get to the right. Hedgehog Launch is vertically oriented, seeing how high you can get while letting you swerve in either direction. The Hedgehog Rocket is also more strategic, helping you hit targets and not just providing a distance boost.
Hedgehog Launch rewards hitting things in the sky, rather than rating your performance at the end. Learn to Fly adds achievements for additional funds.
The upgrades are similar. Learn to Fly lets you unlock bigger ramps. Shopping Cart Hero offers groupies that enhance your score/reward but not your performance, and they can be lost in a crash.
Shopping Cart Hero requires you to buy upgrades sequentially, while the others let you skip ahead. This adds economic strategy to the animal games, as you decide whether it is worth getting that stretchier rubber band now, for more income, or waiting until you can afford another box.
Ground performance is a minor difference. A shopping cart rolls and bounces. A penguin bounces if it hits the water hard enough, but it mostly just sinks when it hits. Hedgehogs do not even roll that well, but you can extend your time by continuing to slide with the rocket.
A bonus fourth game, Dolphin Olympics 2, has some similarities to Hedgehog Launch. Both games have you sending an animal as high as possible in the sky, with horizontal freedom. Dolphin Olympics 2 is otherwise different, with a time limit, a one-time event, no shopping or upgrades, sliding, tricks that affect your score and speed, and a balance of horizontal and vertical speed. It does share Hedgehog Launch’s booster platforms/rings and Shopping Cart Hero’s tricks, although Dolphin Olympics 2 exhibits a much more sophisticated and interesting system for tricks.
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