The Hunger Games: Girl On Fire iOS review

The Hunger Games arrives in cinemas but a free prequel game has already hit iPhone and iPad. CJ battles with Katniss...

There comes a time in every young woman’s life when she’s chased by giant wasps.

Wait, that’s not right. There comes a time in every young woman’s life when she tries to murder other teenagers to secure her own future and that of her sister. No, hang on. There comes a time in every young woman’s life when she stars in her own mobile game on iOS. Oh that’ll do.

You’ve doubtless heard of The Hunger Games by now. Suzanne Collins’ futuristic reality-show-turned-nightmare novel trilogy would make George Orwell rotate in his grave like he had an outboard motor attached to him. The film adaptation is released today.

Not to miss an Orwellian trick, Lionsgate Entertainment has licensed the doubleplusgood game rights too. They also managed to rope in indie developers Semi Secret, the whizkids behind Gravity Hook and the Michael Jackson escape epic Canabalt. Super Meat Boy‘s Danny Baronowsky scores the whole thing. Bonzer.

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The star of Girl on Fire is The Hunger Games trilogy’s lead Katniss Everdeen. Katniss powers it across side-scrolling stages while blasting freaky rejects from Pokemon out of the sky. The graphics are charming and kick it sufficiently old skool to appeal outside of the franchise’s core demographic.

Girl on Fire serves as a prequel to the movie that’s as frantic as most fans on launch day. Squee! Players have to make sure Katniss survives a hunt in the woods and get her back to her charmingly named home of District 12. Presumably you just take a left at District 9

She’s a dab hand with a bow is our Katniss, and every laser-firing beastie she downs wins her, read you, points. Swipe up or down to leap between levels in the forest canopy. Tap to fire your bow. It doesn’t take long to figure out by yourself but it would help if the game told you.

Despite maintaining a pace Dame Kelly Holmes would be proud of, you’ll require Miyagi-like concentration and greater reflex control than Duran Duran to get Katniss very far. Get hit by enemies’ pink laser-juice and you stumble. A couple more lovetaps like that and you can forget about taking part in the 74th Hunger Games.

There are better options in the genre out there, and some are just as free. Running Fred and endless runner Temple Run spring to mind, and the latter has more rhythmic bongos. iOS Mirror’s Edge is relatively expensive but still an improvement.

What Girl on Fire has on its side is the support of a million eager tweens, teens and mature fans who’d gladly dust off Katniss every time her mad sprints are scuppered by tracker jackers and other muttations (sic). Go to Wikipedia to check, come back. No, I didn’t know what it meant at first either.

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Hunger Games: Girl on Fire might not be a full meal, but it’s energetic tap-frenzy gameplay will satisfy those Panem pangs. You never know, it might make you want to give the movie a chance. Add an extra star or two depending on your excitement and blood sugar levels.

3 stars

You can check out our review of The Hunger Games here.

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3 out of 5