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Number of Results: 77

Review Rewind: ChocoRun

ChocoRun holds a special place in my heart. It was one of the first games that I got into so much that I started talking to the developer, Alejandro, on a semi-regular basis. I also felt the need to tell everyone in the world about how great this Super Meat Boy-esque, tough-as-nails platformer was. Since its release it’s gone through a major graphical overhaul, and received an easy difficulty mode, as well as other tweaks and additions. It’s also been ripped off a couple of time by unscrupulous developers. I’ve also received a special Chocoplushe, hand-made by the developer, and reserved for players who managed to complete the game. Anyway, more than a year later, and ChocoRun can still be found on both my iPod and my iPad. It’s one of the toughest platformers around, has some awesome level design and is a blast to play. If you missed out on it the first time around, or just didn’t happen to hear about it until now, it’s definitely a game platformer fans do NOT want to miss out on. 
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 2.0.
Super Meat Boy is one of my favorite platformers of all time, so with the clones hitting the AppStore lately, you’d think I’d be a pretty happy camper. But not really. For the most part, there’s filled with horrible controls and floaty physics. But when I first saw ChocoRun, I couldn’t help but get excited. The original build of the game was awesome, and the one touch control to jump worked perfectly. Now, ChocoRun has been totally re-vamped in a new graphical style, has more levels, and an added Easy Mode, as well as unlockable characters. So what better time to review it then now?
This platformer from Alejandro Jimenez Vilarroya hit the AppStore about two months ago, and proved that it was the SMB clone for the iOS that everyone needed to get. Top notch level design, along with great physics, easy, but precise one touch charge and jump controls, and clean graphics helped spur an instant fan following. Over the last two months Alejandro teamed up with a new graphics designer, and the flashy new update has hit iOS devices around the world, and the graphics in the updated version of ChocoRun are awesome. There has been increased detail in the objects and platforms that were already in the game, and the backgrounds were completely enhanced to fit the new graphical style. Also, being retina supported and Universal gives us the opportunity to see all these graphical updates in HD, the way they were meant to be seen. The animations are outstanding, each and every razor blade looks amazing while it’s spinning or flying through the air right at your cute little head. Choco now spins while jumping in the air as well, which also adds to the great look and feel of the game. 
The controls work like they always did, press anywhere on the screen to charge your jump, and let go to perform the jump, hold on the screen while in the air, and let go when you touch a wall in order to wall jump, but now we’ve been given a charge meter that circles Choco while you’re pressing on the screen, letting you know how high and far he’ll go when you let go. This addition helps immensely with being able to pull off those tougher jumps and more tricky areas. The game is still just as frustrating as it ever was though. The death counter at the main menu keeps track of how many times you’ve died while playing the game. Right now, my counter is at 3,342, so you can expect to see your character explode from hitting spikes or razor blades quite a bit. But with unlimited lives, you can also expect to always want to play just one more life, and then realize that an hour has passed.
Level designs in the new update are just as great as the previous build’s levels, maybe even better, and more thought out. It’s very clear that loads of beta testing has gone on, and that each level was tweaked and edited to make them all just right. The game now has 50 great levels, which will keep you busy for weeks. Another great addition to the update is the new Easy Mode. Choco is given 3 lives to waste in each level before re-starting here, along with a cute little pink bow. If you’re having a hard time unlocking the next set of levels, Easy Mode is always there to help out. 
So, with all this said, ChocoRun is definitely one of my favorite iOS platformers, and very easily the best Super Meat Boy clone in the AppStore. With The original SMB developers saying that they wouldn’t port SMB to the iOS device because the virtual controls wouldn’t work, Alejandro Vilarroya has given us a Super Meat Boy clone, not with virtual controls, but with controls that work extremely well on a touch screen. It’s highly recommended to all platformer fans, as well as fans of very frustrating and difficult games. This one will keep you glued to your iPod screen, as well as screaming and banging your head against the wall. For $0.99, it’s a great deal. 
**ChocoRun is still priced at $0.99

One Tap Hero [Coconut Island Studio + Chillingo] – $0.99

Chillingo. Just saying the word brings hundreds of games to mind. They’ve ranged from casual to hardcore, puzzlers to action, adventure to arcade titles, they’ve basically released something for everyone, and I still find myself being surprised fairly often by the games they shove into the AppStore’s virtual shelves. Case and point? One Tap Hero, the new Puzzle Platformer from Coconut Island Studios (developers of the physics puzzler, Finger Balance and the score-chasing toilet paper dragging game, iDrag Paper).
I should say that I know there are some gamers out there, platformer fans,  who are worried about a ‘one tap plat former’ – but with games like ChocoRun, Wind-up Knight, 1-Bit Ninja, the newer titles Bitless and Sunshine, and the onslaught of Endless Runners with platforming elements that have made their way onto the iDevice, I was pretty excited to check out another addition to the genre. Knowing that like-minded titles can range from fairly easy with simple level designs to hardcore with crazy level designs and enemies/hazards everywhere, I wasn’t sure what to really expect, but I knew right away that it had the potential to be a great game. Even then, I was still surprised while making my way through the game.
One Tap Hero is the story of a little ghost looking creature who’s, in a way, chasing after his abducted girlfriend. While out in a field one day, a wizard appeared, turned his girlfriend into a zombie like teddy bear, and now, as you collect stars from each of the levels, you’re slowly turning your sweetheart back into the normal cutesy little creature she use to be. 
As the name suggests, One Tap Hero is controlled by tapping an action button. That’s right, everything in the game is controlled this way; jumping, climbing ladders, switching levers, stopping at certain spots and more. Your character constantly moves throughout the level, bouncing off of walls, while you try and collect all 3 stars in a level, and make it to your girlfriend. The amount of different things your character could do with just one tap actually kind of threw me off guard, but with some great level designs, and well thought out gameplay, it never got too cluttered up, wanting your character to do one thing, but having him doing another was something that just does not happen throughout the game. 
One Tap Hero’s Story Mode contains 4 separate environments, each offering up new mechanics and atmospheres, and having 20 stages, along with 5 bonus levels which can be unlocked by collecting hard to snag keys throughout some of the stages. Each level has a possible 3 star ranking, along with coins which you can try and collect, which adds to your total score, as well as another challenge to try and master. You can also spend your coins in the game’s shop, which lets you purchase different outfits, keys to unlock bonus levels, and bombs which you can use to take out the ninja enemies later on in the game. Also, these days, almost every time you see a shop in a game, you can bet there’s going to be IAPs, and there are; 1,500 coins for $0.99, 5,000 for $1.99, 15,000 for $2.99, 30,000 for $3.99 and each bomb costs $0.99, but you don’t NEED to purchase anything extra to enjoy and complete the game. 
The graphics and animations do a great job of helping to draw you into the world of One Tap Hero. Levels are placed on top of various backdrops, and I will admit, as much as I love retro graphics, it’s nice when a platformer strays away from this. The animations are nice and smooth, and do a great job of keeping players immersed in the game. Completing this is a wonderful relaxing soundtrack, matching the gameplay and environments perfectly, and complimenting the atmosphere quite a bit. 
Coconut Island has also done a fantastic job with the level designs. Even though the games difficulty isn’t really up there on the charts, that doesn’t mean that the levels are simplistic by any means. With perfectly placed pits, platforms, stars, coins and hazards, alongside levers that move entire sections of stages, spikes, rotating worlds and more, it’s very clear that a crazy amount of time has gone into the level designs, especially later on in the game. 
GameCenter integration adds the final touches, with 4 leaderboards, one for the total score of each world and 43 achievements, there’s enough content and replay value to keep gamers busy for a while. Priced at $0.99 and being Universal, One Tap Hero is another great Chillingo publication. Coconut Island has done a great job with just about every single aspect of the game, and compared to their previous titles, it‘s clear that they‘ve learned quite a bit in their so-far short developing life-cycle. Though, it would be nice if there was more of a challenge, and the constant back and forth with the difficulty levels as you progress through the game would have been much better as a constant upward climb in difficulty. Power-ups would have also been a great inclusion, especially later on when the enemies make an appearance. But even so, One Tap Hero is another great addition to the Single Tap Platformer genre, and one that casual as well as hardcore gamers can enjoy. Now let’s just hope that this Chillingo game will be updated and that ’Coming Soon’ world actually does come soon. 

Random Heroes [Ravenous Games] – $0.99

Ravenous Games is best known for their breakout hit, League of Evil. If you don’t have it yet, chances are you either just got an iDevice, or detest platformers with a passion. If you do, then you know how extremely high Ravenous set the bar for the rest of the platforming development community, as well as themselves. Playing LoE, it was hard to believe that the same developers of Cave Run had come so far, and gained such an incredible understanding of what made a Speedrun Platformer great. But they did, and after the releases of Burger Cat and LoE 2, it was again hard to believe that it was the same development team. Granted, it was great seeing another side of the studio, but they were far from touching the same bar that LoE set. Now, Ravenous has released yet another title, Random Heroes, another action platformer, originally a Flash game, with Run’n’Gun elements. 
Random Heroes is the story of a city who’s been overrun by monsters from another dimension after a couple of kids knocked over the wrong tombstone in the city’s cemetery. Now a group of unlikely heroes are the city’s only hope. The story doesn’t come back into play until after you complete the 30 stage (33 if you include boss battles) game. You’re right if you’re thinking that doesn’t seem like a whole lot of content. A lot of players have beat the game in roughly an hour. Then there are others who might not have a chance.
Seems Random Heroes is plagued by random crashes and lost iCloud save data as well. Crashing has the potential of sending you back close to 15 stages, depending on how long you spend playing, and playing on more than one device could potentially send you back just as far, if not more so, depending on how far into the game you got before trying it on another device. There are quite a few users who haven’t even gotten through the first stage because of crashing, which can be pretty upsetting. There’s also quite a bit of lag and slowdown. 
If you’re lucky enough to not have to deal with those issues, chances are, you might not enjoy the game as much as you thought you would. The enemy AI is pretty bad, requiring a simple jump over and shoot from behind maneuver to outwit them. There are also multiple areas where enemies will get stuck in walls when turning around, making them very easy prey. It does get a little more complex in the later stages, but basically only because of the amount of ammo the enemies pump out, and how quick they are. You’ll also soon discover that there’s a lot of just standing and shooting, as even with a high powered weapon and character, you’ll still need between 2 and 6 slow reloading shots in order to take the enemies out.
Speaking of high powered weapons, there is a shop where you’ll be able to spend your collected coins purchasing various weapons with different reload and firing speeds as well as damage stats. You’re also able to purchase different characters, each having different health, damage, and agility stats, which is nice, and does give the game a little bit of replay value if you’re determined to unlock them all. Also adding to the replay value is GameCenter integration with 24 achievements, but with no scoring or timing system, there’s also no leaderboards, which is kind of a downer. 
The level design isn‘t bad, with multiple branching paths giving players some sense of exploration, which is nice. Though this does lead to some levels becoming very easy if you’re not into exploration, and only taking about 10 seconds to complete. 
Graphically, Random Heroes looks a lot like League of Evil, especially the user interface, which looks like it was ripped out of LoE. For platformer fans, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the graphics and UI in LoE are one it’s strong suits. The animations add to the gameplay’s aesthetic, and never get dull, and the controls and physics are, as you would expect coming from Ravenous, top notch, so long as you aren’t playing on an iPad, which, to be comfortable, requires that your thumbs are as long as hot dogs. 
I really tried to like Random Heroes. I tried not comparing it to League of Evil, I tried to overlook the crashing, lagging and saved data losses, I tried not to get upset when loosing over 2,000 coins, and be positive when barely moving around when confronting enemies, but it’s hard to really focus on Random Heroes strengths with so many issues, problems, and the lack of content constantly staring you in the face. For $0.99, it’s worth checking out to see if it’ll run on your device(s). Coming from Ravenous, there’s no question that a lot of these issues will be dealt with in a future update, though how long that update takes, and what all it adds to the game is up in the air. Basically all I can say is this; if you want League of Evil, stick with League of Evil, if you want a Run’N’Gun platformer, INC is your best bet, and if you ever want to see Ravenous release another LoE, you might just want to get rid of those hopes.

Review Rewind: Mos Speedrun

One of our favorite speedrun platformers has to be Physmo’s Mos Speedrun. The graphics, controls, physics, soundtrack, music, challenge and difficulty are all, for lack of a better word, perfect. Since it’s release back in April of 2011, Mos Speedrun has received 7 updates, adding more content, more enemies, more costumes, video recording and uploading to YouTube, and more, making it a prime contender for best Speedrun Platformer on the iOS, next to League of Evil. If you’ve yet to pick up Mos, didn’t have an iDevice back when it was released, or just missed out on it, it’s one game every platformer fan needs to own. Snagging the spolight for our third Review Rewind title, Mos Speedrun is still on our devices, and will never be taken off. It’s a great game that we’ll keep coming back to time and time again when we’re looking for a great platforming challenge. 
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.5.
Running. When your pudgy like most adolescent kids these days the sound of that very word strikes fear into your little cheeseburger-loving heart.  Fortunately for you this game encaptures the fun that isn’t running and wont make you sweat at all. The gameplay is quite simple, your goal is to run to the goal in the fastest time possible while trying to be speedy around obstacles and enemies.  
Quick reflexes are the name of the game here but with time even the most pitifully uncoordinated player will be able to play like a pro.  The first level is the of course the adjustment level where you get used to the controls and the nuances of the game. After that you are basically on your own to explore and finish all of the levels. Each level is unlocked once you complete the prior level regardless of whatever you scored on it.  In each of the levels there are a variety of different paths that you can take some of which net you more or less coins that influence your endgame score.  Through a process of trial and error you begin to figure out what works and what doesn’t and how you can begin to improve your time and score.  
The reason I am really enjoying this game is due to that factor of replayability.  No matter how well I finish a level I am always intrigued enough to try it again and try to shave a few seconds off for bragging rights on the leaderboards.  At the end of each level you score badges on the various things you did. For example if you found the hidden skull in each level you get a badge, you finish inside the time limit you get a badge as well.  I usually don’t enjoy games that have a in-game timer but I’m okay with it in this orientation because speed is this games middle name and being able to see the amount of time your wasting trying to find the skull and increase your panic level.  After you die in a level (which will happen often believe me) you are sent back to the start where you can watch as a ghost of your previous attempt runs alongside or ahead of your current effort to not die. You have the option to turn off the ghost respawning and the type of control you use in the blatantly obvious option menu. 
Another nifty feature in the option menu is the fact you can change your characters look from there.  The costumes include a ninja, the atypical purple jogging suit, and a bee.  There are 5 worlds in all and to unlock the next one you need to earn a certain number of badges in the previous level. Overall this a extremely addicting game that has you shaving off the seconds in the pursuit of a better score to boast about.  With tons of replayablility and hidden objects you will always find new content in Mos Speedrun.  I give it a 5/5.

Review Rewind: Bloo Kid

Our second Review Rewind spotlights the great little retro platformer Bloo Kid. Developed by Eiswuxe, Bloo Kid started off as an Android title, but found it’s way over to the AppStore, and I, for one, and definitely glad that it did. With a great challenge and 84 levels, it’s still a game that can be found on my iPod, and that I occasionally play whenever I’ve got a couple minutes to spare. The bite-sized levels make for great jump-in-and-play-for-a-minute gameplay, but it still provides enough challenge that you can sit there and all of a sudden realize that a good hour has gone by. Old-school fans, and platformer fans looking for another under-rated gem need look no further. Bloo Kid is where it’s at. 
**Note: This review was written after playing Version 1.0.
Bloo Kid is the first game for the iOS by Eiswuxe. It’s a platformer, soit’s a risky first game, but Eiswuxe has pulled it off almost flawlessly. You play as Bloo Kid, who is trying to rescue his girlfriend from the evil Wizard. You’re given 60 levels through 5 different worlds. Each level is the size of the screen, so don’t expect any side-scrolling goodness. But to avoid clutter, the developer has made it so that enemies spawn in different places of the levels, giving you waves of enemies to defeat before you complete the level. In each level, you can get 3 stars. One star for beating the level, another for collecting the star that shows up at the end of the level, and lastly, for making it through the level without taking any damage. 
With platformers, controls and physics are huge. If you can’t nail those, then your game will pretty much tank. Eiswuxe has done an amazing job here making the physics and controls work great. The controls are nice and tight, you don’t need to lift your thumb up to change directions, and the jump button is very responsive, and how high you jump is directly related to how long you hold on the jump button. The buttons are also placed very well, and are just the right size. The physics are great. The game doesn’t feel floaty or weighed down at all, which is always very nice to see. It makes the game feel like a game that’s meant to be played instead of a game that’s meant to be fiddled with, struggling with the controls the whole way through. 
World 1 stars out pretty bland, but it’s designed for you to get a real grasp on the levels and how the game works. Eiswuxe decided to make the first world available in the lite version, which might have been a mistake, because most of the interesting gameplay comes after the first world. World 2 gets more difficult, and way more interesting, as you’re faced with enemies that throw objects at you, more platforms that move and take you to other parts of the level, bouncing spikes that you need to avoid, dashing enemies, enemies that you need to jump on in order to make it to other parts of the level, and enemies that need to be jumped on more than once in order to kill them. 
From here on, there’s not too many new enemies, but you will facemore and different ones as you progress. The level design as you go along gets better and better as well, and level design in a one-screen platformer is very important. But just like the controls and physics, Eiswuxe has pulled it off almost flawlessly. There are a couple of areas that it’s impossible to jump over spikes without an enemy being there, and a couple levels where the star is placed in an area where you’d need to jump on the last enemy in order to get there before the star shows up. You are given 5 hearts in each level, but having the stages set up this way just adds to the difficulty, and if you’re really worried about getting 3 stars on each of the 60 levels, this adds to the re-playability of the game. 
At the end of each world, you’re faced by a boss, who takes 6 hits to kill. Each of the bosses has a special attack that you’ll need to figure out in order to survive the battle. Also, at the beginning of each world, you’re given a little clip of your girlfriend being taken to the next area where you’ll be playing. The animations in Bloo Kid are done very well, even when you stop running your character starts to take deep breaths. It’s got a cute factor to it, but it’s a game with difficulty for sure. Especially if you’re trying to get all the stars. Making it through some of the levels without taking damage might take you multiple tries, but each time you screw up, you’re going to end up cussing yourself, and not the controls or game. The retro graphics are fitting, as it’s a game that reminds me of older NES games with it’s frustration level, and difficulty, and that just draws me to it even more. 
For their first game in the AppStore, Eiswuxe has shown that even though they’re new, they can make a professional game with top notch controls and physics, along with wonderful level design. You can check out the lite version in the AppStore, but it only contains the first world, which isn’t a very good representation of the entire game. I almost skipped out on this one because of the lite version, and it would have been a mistake on my end. But the lite version will give you a feel for the game, and let you check out the controls, physics, and first world level design for yourself. I’m giving Bloo Kid 4.5 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to all platformer fans. It could be a 5/5 game if it had online leaderboards, achievements, and some power-ups thrown in, but it’s definitely a game that you will play all the way through, and then most likely end up going back to just to try and get most or all of the stars. For $0.99, it’s a wonderful game. 

Chimpact [Chillingo + Yippee Entertainment] – $0.99

Chillingo is a machine when it comes to publishing games. Every single week, I look forward to seeing what’s coming out of their studio next. Unfortunately, they aren’t very well known for screening developers. More than once, I’ve had a Chillingo game that didn’t run on my device (when it clearly stated that it was supported), had bugs and issues, or was never updated after multiple promises from developers, and have had them tell me to contact Apple for a refund because they weren’t going to fix the bugs, or make it so that the game could run on my device (a 4th gen iPod Touch, if you’re wondering). But their games are almost always super cheap, and when they do work out, they’re usually very well designed, highly polished and a blast to play. One of Chillingo’s newest publications, Chimpact, developed by Yippee Entertainment, just so happens to fall into that category. 
Chimpact doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table. In fact, there’s a few other games that I’ve been hooked on in the past; Drag It, Wire Way, Spoing, Parachute Ninja, Up And Up and Jump Birdy Jump all come to mind. However, Chimpact happens to be one of the best titles within the genre. Granted, I don’t think anything will ever out-do Parachute Ninja, but Chimpact comes close. With 36 levels spread across 3 worlds, along with 180 challenge levels to complete, there’s tons of content, and plenty of challenges to go through. With Chimpact including a leaderboard for total number of Bananas Collected, and 32 Achievements via GameCenter, there is some added replayability. Though, the way it’s set up, you could, in all reality, play and re-play the very first level over and over again, and hit the #1 spot on GameCenter. Leaderboards that are set up in this fashion usually deter from the real score-chasing, which is a shame.
Aside from that, Chimpact is a very solid Flick-Based Platformer. The one touch controls are tight, and precise, and the physics, while very slightly floaty, are still well done, and the gameplay is smooth and runs without any hiccups or frameskips, even on my 4th generation iPod Touch. Not to mention, Chimpact provides loads of challenge, and is incredibly fun.
Each GemQuest level has a possible 5 Gem and Gold Totem ranking. To get the 5 Gem ranking, you’ll just need to collect all 5 gems hidden throughout the stage. This will require you to sometimes scan areas by dragging your finger on the screen, because once you reach the next slingshot, or section with mushroom trampolines, you can’t go back and pick up a missed gem. The Gold Totem ranking is what really makes the game challenging. To get a Gold Totem rank in a stage, you need to have a perfect run. This means you need to collect all of the gems, all of the bananas and banana bunches, kill all the bugs and not take any damage throughout the level. 
The 180 Challenge Levels also provide loads of difficult challenges. There are 3 worlds, and 12 totems in each world, with each totem containing 5 challenges. Each of the 5 challenges contained in a totem are different, kind of set up like objectives. For instance, in one totem, you could be required to reach the end of the stage before time runs out, collect all alarm clocks in a stage before they ring and time runs out, reach the end of the level while only using each vine (slingshot) once, and make it to the end of the level without being damaged more than 3 times. There’s loads more, like getting to the end of a level before a ghost does, reaching the end of a stage while only using a certain number of vines, pop a certain number of pods in a certain amount of time… you get the idea. It’s clear that the developers have spent a ton of time figuring out various objectives for these challenge levels, and with 180 of them, there’s more than enough to keep even the most hardcore gamers busy for a while. 
With more content on the way, being priced at $0.99, a Universal build, and having GameCenter integration, Chimpact is a fantastic buy at a steal of a price. Hopefully Yippee doesn’t flake out like so many other developers who have had games published by Chillingo, because Chimpact is a great game. But for it’s price, it’s definitely worth taking a chance on it, especially if you’re a fan of the genre. Yippee does have a mind-blowing amount of experience under their team’s belt with over 130 years of gaming experience going back to the days of 8-bit gaming, so even though they’re a young studio, there’s a solid chance that they’re in it for the long haul, which is great, because with the amount of polish and entertainment contained in Chimpact, I can’t wait to see what Yippee comes out with next. 

NinjaBoy [2 Ton Studios] – $0.99

Tilt controlled platformers are a bit of a touchy subject, especially for hardcore fans of the platform genre. Fortunately, there are a couple of titles out there that use tilt controls, and do it exceptionally well, building the game around the controls, instead of building a game and throwing in tilt controls because they’re available; Crazy Hedgy, Bounce On and Hoggy are a couple titles that instantly come to mind. Well, now platformer fans can add one more title to that very short list. The brother-duo development team, 2 Ton Studio’s, who’ve, until now, been releasing games for the WP7 (originally though to be one of the iPhone’s most competitive devices, crashing soon after, they released Flying Heads, Akiak, and a title recently brought over to the iOS, NinjaBoy), have finally decided to spread their wings, and attack the AppStore bringing over the quick-level platformer, NinjaBoy.
Now, I will admit that when I first heard of NinjaBoy, I blew it off, and it was because of the controls. More often than not, I absolutely despise tilt controls in platformers, and with so few titles utilizing them and building their game around the controls, it’s pretty easy to say that 95% of tilt-based platformers are going to crash and burn. Fortunately, I’ve got some very pushy gamer friends who would not let up. Finally, I caved. And my iPod is all the better because of it. 
NinjaBoy is the story of a fallen kingdom, and a harsh ruler. Tadeo, the character you’ll be controlling, and his master, Minoru, escaped the land, running to a forgotten temple to train until Tadeo is strong enough to battle Lord Hito and take back the kingdom. 
2 Ton Studio’s has marked NinjaBoy as a puzzle-platformer. And it is, of sorts. Quick thinking and figuring out how to get through the screen-sized levels so that you can collect all 3 stars before hitting the exit can prove to be a bit of a challenge, especially after you make your way through the first set of levels. 
Starting off, you’ll need to go through the Dojo, where you’ll go through 40 levels, learning the basics, and preparing yourself to enter The Kingdom. The Dojo is split up into 3 sections, the Lower, Mid and Upper levels. Each stage has a possible 3 star ranking, though not required to move on, this is where the core challenge is. In each stage, there are 3 stars which you can grab, and an exit. If you touch the exit before you collect all of the stars, the level ends, and you’ll need to replay it if you’re trying to get all 3 of the stars. Some levels also have a locked exit, and a key. In these levels, you’re able to pass through the level’s exit before you have the key, and still be able to carry on, collecting the rest of the objects in the level. 
The levels are designed so that you’ll need to figure out the best way to collect all 3 stars, the key, and reach the exit in the quickest time possible. In the Lower level stages, you’ll learn the game’s basics, but as you move on into the Mid level stages, it starts to get a little more tricky. Here, you’ll start to encounter trip-wires and golems. If you touch the trip-wires, you’ll need to restart the level. Now, since one hazard isn’t really sufficient, you’ll also come across golems. These creatures kill you if you fall into their direct line of sight, so avoiding the front of them is essential for progressing through the stages. In the Upper level stages, it gets a little more tricky. Here, you’re exposed to different trip-wires. In the Mid level stages, the trip-wires were red, and killed you on impact. In the Upper level stages, you’ll come across blue and green trip-wires. Green wires let you fall down through them, while blue wires let you jump up through them. If you happen to go the wrong way through them, you’ll be killed. You are graded on how many stars you collect, the amount of time it takes you, and your efficiency. This is how you earn gold. The higher your grade, the more gold you’ll earn. 
In the shop, you’re able to spend your earned gold on various items and costumes, all with different abilities and stat increases. Different outfits will give you different abilities; The red outfit will let you tap and hold while you’re jumping to slowly float downwards, while the green outfit boosts you back up if you happen to fall past the bottom of a room. Along with 3 other outfits, there are also charms which, when held, can give you a gold boost at the end of every level, and potions, which let you bypass trip-wires and get past golems without being seen. 
With tight controls, playing NinjaBoy on the iPhone/iPod Touch is a blast, and does provide a great challenge. However, even though the game is Universal, there are no other control options, so playing on the iPad can get kind of frustrating. With the constant tilting, your wrists are in for quite a workout. Though I’m not saying that I’d like to see virtual controls, because the game is built around the tilt scheme, I am saying that the game is a lot more comfortable for gameplay on the smaller devices. Priced at $0.99, and containing 80 levels, each with a possible 3 star ranking, there is quite a bit of content to play through. However, there is no GameCenter support, which does take away from the replay value, and the drive to play your best to unlock achievements. Hopefully GameCenter will be added in a future update, because I’d love to battle it out on some leaderboards, and see what extra challenges some achievements could add to the game. 2 Ton Studios has provided a really good tilt controlled platformer with NinjaBoy, and it’s very well developed. I’d love to see them bring more titles over to the iOS in the future, and will definitely be keeping my eyes on them from now on. 

Sunshine [Morbidware] – $0.99

Gravity-centric platformers like Soosiz, Mr. Ninja, Magnetic Baby and They Need To Be Fed are generally few and far between, but when they do hit the AppStore, fans of the genre just eat em up, and beg for more. Well, last week, newcomers Morbidware added one more game to that very small list; Sunshine. An incredibly challenging, touch-to-jump mesh of Super Meat Boy and Mr. Ninja, providing an incredible challenge, and offering up quite a bit of replayability. 
Sunshine is a story of the Multiverse. With Photon’s shining all over the Multiverse, Black Holes have found a way to turn shining suns into nothingness, and are on a mission to drain all of the light out of the Multiverse. You’ll guide a little Photon around planets, asteroids and black holes, while you try and collect sunshine orbs, and make your way to each level’s exit, saving one system at a time. 
The game contains a Story Mode. No other gameplay modes are included, but fortunately, they aren’t really needed. With 3 Systems to travel through, and each system having 20 stages, with 12 different environments, loads of hazards, boss battles, and an insane amount of challenge, Sunshine will keep even the most hardcore gamers busy for quite some time. 
The controls are simple. Tap to jump. To jump higher, hold your finger down longer. To do a very short jump, tap the screen and let off as quickly as possible. Your little Photon moves on his own, rotating clockwise, orbiting each object. As you’ll quickly find out, black holes can be used and jumped on, but you better get off of them quick, as they shrink, and try to suck you into oblivion in a matter of seconds. Each object has it’s own gravity, and learning how to manipulate it definitely works to your advantage. 
As your jumping from object to object, there’s orbs which you’ll need to collect in order to open up each level’s exit (3 orbs open the exit). Once you do this, you can either stay in the level, and keep trying to collect the rest of the orbs, or you can exit the level, taking the loss to your score. Each stage also has 3 collectible stars you can try and snag. One for completing the level, another for collecting all of the orbs and the last one for completing the level under a certain amount of time. The time challenges are among the hardest I’ve ever seen in an iOS game, especially after you get through the introduction levels, and if you’re a sucker for 100% completing games, this is probably what will keep you coming back, as well as what will drive you insane. 
The graphics and animations for Sunshine are fantastic. I especially love the models used for the bosses, and the ‘cut-scene’ images. The animations are great, with a light ‘trail’ behind your Photon, smooth spinning of objects, great explosions, and more. The sounds and background music help to complete this atmosphere perfectly, with nice effects adding to the ‘oomph’ of the gameplay, it’s incredibly hard not to get sucked in. 
Another huge plus for the game is the level design. With moving objects, as well as the rotation of each world, asteroid, and black hole, the placement of hazards, and the mix of black holes and ‘safe’ zones for you to travel on, it’s clear that the game has gone through endless hours of work, thought, and beta testing to make sure that each level provides a fantastic challenge while not straying too far into the level of frustrating, and enhancing the gameplay immensely. Also keeping the game from getting too frustrating, if you die 10 times in a row, you’re given the option to use an extra heart, which adds one hit point to your Photon, and really helps out on those harder levels. 
Unfortunately, Sunshine does not run on 4th Generation Touch devices ATM, and is not Universal. The developers are, however, working on a fix, and have said that they’re kicking around some ideas for the iPad. Other than that, there’s not one bad thing I can say about Sunshine. It’s one of the best titles within the Gravity-Centric Platform genre, and with it’s hard-as-nails, Super Meat Boy level of difficulty, it provides a fantastic challenge for those willing to take it on. Though, the difficulty might be a deterrent for a lot of gamers, it’s great seeing games with this level of challenge hitting the AppStore more frequently these days. Being priced at $0.99, and including GameCenter leaderboards for each of the game’s Systems (worlds), there’s quite a bit of content to enjoy, and even more replay value if you’re determined to 100% complete the game, or go score-chasing on the boards. Morbidware has definitely, DEFINITELY made some hardcore iOS gamers happy with their first iOS title. I really hope we get to see more from them in the future. 

Bitless [Nicholas Rapp] – $0.99

One of my favorite genres of video games happens to be platformers. Luckily for me, there’s loads of great titles available in the AppStore. One of my favorites has always been ChocoRun; A hard as nails, Super Meat Boy influenced game with one touch controls for jumping. Since it’s release, there hasn’t been another title even remotely similar. Until now. Bitless, developed by Nicholas Rapp, is a touch-to-jump, hard as nails, retro platformer that will drive you insane and keep you addicted at the same time. What more could you ask for in a platformer? Well, other than tight controls, awesome level design, sweet bosses, and some badass chip tune music… which, fortunately, can all be found in Bitless as well. Excited yet?
Bitless contains 50 levels spread across 4 worlds, and includes 3 bosses. Starting off, the game is simple enough. Your little character moves on his own, and to jump, you just need to tap the screen. Holding down longer results in a longer/higher jump. If you hit an edge, your character will change directions on his own. However, even with this very simple gameplay, it leaves a lot of possibilities open for some very challenging segments and levels. 
As you progress through the game, you’re gradually introduced to new gameplay elements; pits, wall jumps, wall sliding, static enemies, moving enemies, small platforms, ect. Each time you die, you’re confronted with a large eye in the lower corner spouting condescending bits at you; Splat, Death, Balls, Really?, Delicious, Ha Ha Ha, LOLZ, and more. You’re also told that each time you die, the enemies grow stronger, though this is really just a mind-game, as with each time you die, you get more frustrated, and the enemies have more power over your aggression. Each time you die, it’s added to your counter, as well as the world-wide counter, and the leaderboard. Checking out the boards will show you how many levels gamers have completed, as well as how many deaths, and believe me, some of these death numbers are insane. 
The retro graphics and animations in Bitless are fantastic. The backgrounds contain images which kind of look like platforms, but not really. They mix in very well with the actual levels, and give it a sort of 2.5D look, which is great. The animations for movement are fairly simple, but keep with the sort of minimal graphic look of the game. The music and effects are also top notch, mixing in a very well produced chip tune soundtrack, and throwing in some great sounds. 
What really stands out is the level design. It’s very clear that each level has been crafted and tested, hundreds of times, to make sure that the game doesn’t contain any missing tiles, and that the jumps are perfectly spaced apart. The segments of wall jumping mixed in with the dodging of the evil eyes, disappearing platforms sections, endless pits, eyes that chase after you, eye shooting boss eyes, and much, much more is all put together so well that it creates one hell of a challenge, and one extremely entertaining, and almost sadistic gameplay experience. 
Being Universal and priced at $0.99, Bitless is a game that EVERY platformer fan needs to pick up. GameCenter integration is not included, but will be in a future update. However, the game contains it’s own worldwide leaderboards, and pretty large list of achievements. The difficulty might be a little too high for a lot of players, but if you’re up for a challenge, Bitless will definitely provide it. It’s easily of the best platformers I’ve played on the iOS, and one of the most difficult I’ve played on any platform. I really can’t wait to see what Nicholas Rapp will bring to the table with his next releases. 

Kid Vector [Uncade] – $1.99

Back when I first got my 2nd generation iPod Touch, platformers were pretty hard to find. There really only seemed to be a couple decent ones available for the iOS at the time. Since then, the genre has grown and grown, and kept growing into the massive collection it currently is. Now, with well over 50 platformers on my iPod alone, the only hard thing to find is which game I want to play. Luckily, this week, Virginia based developer, Uncade, released his third platform game, Kid Vector. 
Like Uncade’s last platformer release, Blast Ball (now named Blast Soccer), Kid Vector uses beautiful retro graphics to enhance the gameplay. Personally, I loved the graphics in Blast Ball, but with Kid Vector, the backgrounds are all animated, adding to the look, as well as the feel of the game, and bringing an extra level of polish to the whole package. 
One (of very few) shortcoming of Kid Vector is the length. Containing only 15 levels, chances are you’ll finish the game relatively quick. However, even that can provide a decent challenge, and when  you bring into account the 3 badges that each of the 15 levels has, you’ve got yourself one hell of an old-school challenge to complete. 
Each level contains a certain amount of coins, as well as 1 hidden star. Collecting all of the coins gives you the Coin Badge, while finding the star will get you the Star Badge. Each level also has a time limit which you can try and complete the level by in order to get the Time Badge. Now, don’t get the wrong idea, just because there’s time limits does not mean that Kid Vector contains bite-sized levels. The levels are actually pretty big. Big enough to have a checkpoint, and time limits around 50 seconds. 
The level design for Kid Vector is fantastic. With the crazy amount of hazards (spikes on the ground and the ceiling, falling spikes, flame throwers, laser blasters, large caterpillars, UFO beams and much more!) placed perfectly, and moving as well as disappearing platforms, and the animated backgrounds adding to the whole layout as well as challenge, it’s one of the most well designed iOS platformers I’ve had the pleasure of playing, and I’ve played just about every single one of them. 
Priced at $1.99, being Universal, including different placement of the buttons for the larger iPad screen (though you’re unable to move the buttons), and GameCenter integration with 7 achievements, Kid Vector is a great buy, especially if you’re a fan of old-school platformers. The 3 badges for each level do add to the challenge, and the replay value, but once you complete that, there’s really nothing to come back for. GameCenter leaderboards for each of the 3 world’s total times, or including a scoring system for score-chasing would have been a huge plus. Though, with Uncade’s previous releases getting some fairly big updates, fully rounding out his previous titles, there’s a pretty good chance that Kid Vector will only be improved as time goes on. As it is now though, there’s quite a bit of gameplay to keep even hardcore platform veterans busy for hours as the challenge more than makes up for the lack of leaderboards and the shortness of the game. Uncade has definitely pushed the bar for iOS retro platformers with slick graphics, awesome music, fabulous level design, and a crazy amount of hazards. Kid Vector is one title you should not pass up.