The basic game is free and involves you driving your 4x4 up hills, across bridges, down hills and then up more hills. Along the way you collect coins and fuel. Drive too slowly and you’ll run out of petrol; drive to quick and you’ll inevitably flip the Jeep over and snap the poor hillbilly’s neck (the crunching sound is quite sickening). At that point it’s game over and you start over again.
Using your coins (plus bonus cash from jumps and flips) you can upgrade your vehicle’s engine, tyres, suspension and 4x4 system. These become increasingly expensive as you continue upgrading.
Each level (there are 14 and every one bar the first must be unlocked with coins) has various stages, and you get a bonus the first time you pass each point.
There are also 14 vehicles, 13 of which must be unlocked. They range from motorbikes and quad bikes to a snow mobile and hovercraft (which costs 1,000,000 coins).
You can earn a fair amount of coins by playing the game (and watching adverts for 5,000 reward), but you’ll quickly realise that to unlock most of the levels and vehicles you’ll have to use the in-app purchases to buy coins. These range from £1.49 for 150,000 to £35 for 20,000,000. Any coin purchase makes the game ad-free.
It’s perfectly possible to play Hill Climb Racing without spending money, though. The real joy comes in mastering the controls since, once you do, you can get up the steep hills that you previously thought impossible and cover ground quickly enough (without crashing) to collect fuel cans.
There’s just a brake and accelerator and you must carefully use both to avoid the off-roaders doing forward or backward rolls. The brake doubles up as reverse if you get stuck, and by holding the throttle you can keep the car’s nose up to prevent it smashing into the potholes and flipping over.
Given its popularity, we hope the developers take note of players’ feedback. One request we’d particularly like to see implemented is to listen to your own music instead of the annoying repetitive game music (it’s fun for the first 60 seconds only). Another is the ability to sync your progress between devices (on iOS there’s no Game Centre support).
Available free on iOS and Google Play, Hill Climb Racing is a game you should install today. (I tested the game on an iPhone 5 and an Android tablet.)