Super Splatform iOS review
Developer: P1XL Games Genre: Platformer Players: 1 Rating: 4+
Requires: iOS 4.3 or later, universal app Tested on: iPad 2 Price: £1.49/$1.99
In App Purchases: No
We reviewed and enjoyed an earlier platform game from P1xl Games – 4NR – and now they are back with a new take on the genre. Once again the team’s retro aesthetic shines through, from the bright blue skies of the NES style graphics to the bleeps of the sound effects.
There are three separate modes to jump into. Classic mode recreates the original Commodore 64 version of Splatform. This was a tiny 1K entry into a 2002 competition and challenged players to bounce through tricky horizontally scrolling levels in as few bounces as possible and just four lives. There are nine levels to complete by reaching the right hand end, with death sending the player back to the start of the level. The new Infinite mode sees the player trying to bounce upwards as high as possible, climbing the randomly generated platforms. One false move and you have to start over. This uses graphics from Classic mode and the new Super Splatform mode.
In Super Splatform the player is presented with a huge grid of levels, with new ones unlocked by completing the previous one. Each level contains a goal platform the happy smiling face must bounce to in as few moves as possible. The face will stop smiling if it falls off, restarting the level. Over time the levels become more complex, scrolling vertically as well as horizontally with arrows hinting to the right direction. Moving vertical and horizontal lifts pose timing problems. Hidden in each level is a gold coin – collecting all the coins unlocks extra difficulty levels in Infinite mode, but it is not mandatory to get the coins to finish a level.
The on-screen display shows the number of bounces taken and the crucial target number. The fewer bounces taken, the better the medal earned. Getting the elusive gold medals will require careful planning and tactics. There are fifty levels spread over five different worlds, each with a different theme. World 2 has ancient columns, while World 3’s snowstorms add tricky winds to blow you off course. World 4’s space theme starts to play with gravity and the psychedelic World 5 is trickier still. Earning silver or gold medals in all 50 levels will unlock extra bonus levels.
Control is crucial in a game like this, which is why there are three different methods offered to players. The default is tilt mode, tipping the screen horizontally to move. Two thumbs mode sees the player pressing on the left and right edges to move, holding to move further. Swipe mode is the final method, allowing fine control by adjusting the distance swiped. At the time of writing, an update for iCade control has been released.
It would be easy to dismiss the graphics as simple, but they do set a nice atmosphere with the bright blue skies and changing styles of platform. Little touches, like the face wearing a crown of laurels as it bounces through the columns, are fun. A very neat idea is the way the level map gives you information on your performance – the colour of a completed level shows the medal achieved, and a coin shows if you have found the coin in that level. You must have carried it to the goal; dying puts the coin back in its place. The pixel-perfect recreation of the C64 original comes complete with a familiar blue start-up screen, just like a real C64. Sound consists of cute tunes (a different one for each World) and suitable bouncy noises, with the player able to select the level of audio accompaniment (all, music only, sound only or silence).
This is a really tiny download providing a heap of platforming fun. It is perfect for mobile play, offering quick bursts of addictive action. Unlocking all the levels will keep you playing – with Game Center achievements and challenges offering extra incentive. Then there’s the vertical climbing of Infinite mode and the very tricky Classic mode. Keep bouncing!
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