Developer: Team Phobic
Price: $3.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

IMG_0622Bounce On 2 is the sequel to one of the App Store’s first platformers, Bounce On. I loved Bounce On, pure and simple: it was good, solid platforming fun, featuring awesome level designs, controls, and game mechanics. Bounce On 2 is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it offers a number of improvements, including closer Plus+ integration, new power-ups, and a new alternative control scheme. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that a lot of the new “features” just added clutter, and I have to admit that I prefer the first game. Bounce On 2 is still a good platformer with a lot going for it…but it’s not quite a must-have.

If you haven’t played Bounce On before, the game is easy to pick up. You take on the role of Bounce, a red rubber ball who spends the game rolling and jumping through the game’s extensive world. Levels are dotted with enemies, obstacles, power-ups, and more. Bounce On has been called “the iPhone’s Mario,” largely because it involves a lot of good, old-school platforming, and I can’t argue with that title. For the most part, this is a “roll-and-jump” game that definitely evokes nostalgia.

The controls are still simple and functional, but this time you have two choices: tap and tilt. Tilt is the default, and I suppose I’m just used to it, because that’s what I prefer. Both work well, though neither is perfect—you’ll want tilt for fluidity, but touch controls give you much more precise control, which is necessary in the later levels. To jump, you simply tap the screen. Power-ups add more to the control scheme—to trigger your parachute, you tap the screen; once you get the fireball powerup, you’ll need to use a flicking motion to move.

IMG_0615This time around, the game revolves around a key-based system. Instead of simply navigating from Point A to Point B in a level and collecting optional gems along the way, different goals have to be fulfilled: killing all the monsters, beating a set time, collecting all of the gems. Meeting a goal (these are pre-defined) earns you a key; enough keys allow you to progress. It gets a little confusing, but once you get used to it, it’s easy to appreciate how the different goals can transform the same level into an entirely new experience. My biggest complaint about this method is the new level selection “screen,” which requires you to navigate a mini-level to reach a real level’s door. There’s a lack of continuity in the setup, and it’s disappointing. On the bright side, this allows you to progress without completing each and every level, which I consider almost a must-have function in any game.

The levels themselves are pretty good. Many use new, tricky mechanisms like switching the direction of gravity. The power-ups have been completely redone as well; now, you jump on boxes to unlock the power-ups within. They range from a ninja headband that grants double-jump to a parachute to a fireball. For the most part, things are still fun, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. There was less of a sense of exploration and the levels are much more linear. Thankfully, you can still find challenges in the later levels.

The graphics have received a major overhaul since the first game, and now are much more complex…and also darker. The new look is supposed to be more sophisticated, I guess, but I miss the simplicity of the first game. Now it just looks more cluttered. Bounce, of course, is as cute a rubber ball as ever, but other elements—especially the text—look overdone and almost amateurish. It’s a matter of personal preference, of course, and it doesn’t affect the game as a whole. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is great.

As for replay value…it’s here, in spades. The original title featured three types of medals based on how completely and how quickly you completed a level. Now, you have multiple keys to earn, but it doesn’t stop there. There are also Plus+ leaderboards and achievements to unlock. Plus, there are Team Phobic “tokens” hidden in each level for you to collect. You can also post your records to Facebook and Twitter.

Overall, Bounce On 2 is a fun platformer with a lot of quirks and fun gameplay. It doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, but don’t let that fool you. There’s a lot of replay value between the Phobic tokens, the keys, and the Plus+ leaderboards, and rolling through the levels is a lot of fun. I’d recommend the first Bounce On over its sequel, but this is a solid title nevertheless.

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