The name says it all. In physics-based iPhone platformer One Single Life you have one life to make increasingly difficult jumps from building to building. Screw up and the app sits locked on your phone (until you delete and re-download the free game.)
So why design such a nail biter of a game? Lead designer Anthony O’Dempsey explains on his company website:
“The reason I was never truly afraid of that ‘perilous’ jump in an otherwise thrilling adventure game was that deep down, I knew the worst possible consequence was having to start the level over or be returned to the nearest checkpoint.
The rules of the game told me “Failure is just a speed bump” and sub-consciously I relaxed just a little.”
I can’t say I dislike where his head is at. You can practice jumps in a no-risk training mode, but the tension of finally nailing a jump (and warned by a sign that says “x% of all players will die here) in the actual, lethal mode is a discouragingly rare feeling in a video game.
I’ve played with the idea of death/lives/checkpoints for a few weeks now, trying to come up with a less gamey way of handling mortality, and Escapist Columnist Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw ran a nice piece inspired by the no-deaths experience in Kirby’s Epic Yarn, but this all-or-nothing approach really has teeth I hope other development teams can recreate.
…As long as the game is free.