Fuel Tiracas Review—Bang for Less Than a Buck
One thing everyone needs to know about Fuel Tiracas is that it’s small. Its fifty-cent price is almost insignificant. Its play sessions will be less than thirty seconds if you’re putting any effort into trimming them down, as you will probably feel inclined to do. In all fairness, it’s pretty short on any substance at a meager 12 levels, all of which can likely be finished in about a half hour.
Once you realize that Fuel Tiracas isn’t about finishing, though, you’ll start to appreciate it more. The game is more about shaving seconds off your time, perfecting every run, and memorizing patterns in order to get your name on the leaderboards.
The game plays like a melange of rhythm, matching, and a sort of thinking man’s Whac-A-Mole. Three circular pods are placed along the left and right sides of the screen, and as one lights up, touching it will make it vanish and be instantly replaced by another, all the while slowly bumping up one of a series of fuel gauges in the center of the screen.
It’s difficult (and unnecessary) to explain in a few words what special fuel pods appear later, but suffice it to say that some will make you speed up, some will require more accuracy, and others are designed to make you stop and think about what you press.
The gameplay itself is fresh, fast-paced, and perfectly suited to burst play. You’ll need to juggle collecting fuel pods, avoiding contaminated fuel pods, and managing fuel levels all at once, since you can’t allow a fuel gauge to rise too high or sink too low (this causes failure). This balancing act makes the game fast-paced and exciting on the first playthrough, and the pressure of the numerous potential pitfalls keeps frenetic high score runs prickly even on your hundredth attempt.
Presentation is excellent on all fronts. Neon-pastel colours decorate the menus and all gameplay-related items, and light minimal dubstep provides a pleasant aural soundscape to complement the unique musical chimes of each type of fuel pod.
The one fatal flaw of Fuel Tiracas is that there is an easy workaround to its otherwise challenging and precision-demanding touches and taps. It’s possible to lightly rub two fingers along both sides of the screen and easily clear away regular fuel pods for as long as they keep appearing, stopping only for regularly appearing traps. For a game that otherwise seems to demand so much precision, it’s rather disappointing to see how easy it is to exploit the game and make it into the top ten of the high score table. It’s likely that this is simply an oversight, but it might have been avoided by shrinking the overly generous touch zones and blocking the edges of the screen from activating pods.
If you decide to play it right, though, Fuel Tiracas is a rewarding and dirt-cheap PSM game. It’s more than worth the half-dollar it costs, and if you want an amusing and attractive little twitch challenge, look no further.