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Developer: Cascadia Games
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

A brilliant scientist named Cavor has invented a bizarre substance (dubbed “cavorite”) which, when sprayed on things, can break the laws of gravity and cause them to float. Naturally he uses this gooey stuff to craft a space ship and fly to the moon, promptly gets captured by moon men and has his ship stolen. Now he has to escape, collect enough components to repair the ship and get back to Earth. It’s pretty much H.G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon, only without Mr. Bedford.

Initially it’s pretty easy to mistake Cavorite for an action-platforming game akin to something featuring Capcom’s Blue Bomber, but this is most certainly not the case. For starters, the professor’s “gun” isn’t lethal; instead, it sprays cavorite which can be used to make boxes float for a brief time. It’s a mechanic that’s used to great effect in every level, it just might not be the mechanic some will be expecting. In fact, the only way to destroy or incapacitate an enemy is through clever use of the environment. So yeah, consider that a heads-up.

Continuing on with the idea of initial impressions, I feel compelled to say a few words about Cavorite‘s visuals. The retro look is here to stay, that’s for sure, but the blending of that ever-popular “16-bit” style with a steampunk motif is an appealing combination that isn’t all that common. Of course, as with all games, graphics aren’t everything and thankfully it also has some pretty solid controls that sidestep many of the most prevalent iOS platformer pitfalls (i.e. sliding between the left and right buttons actually works). Along with the distinct look and responsive controls are some pretty nefarious (in a good way) level designs that will have players scratching their heads for a while as they try to piece together the solution. Some stages up the ante even further by throwing very small timed windows of opportunity into the mix that can, and will, result in a spare part’s destruction or flat-out failure if things aren’t done fast enough. These particular puzzles aren’t as bad as they sound, honest.

Then, of course, we come to the not so great stuff: Cavorite‘s overzealous coddling. Including an option for players to skip a level if they keep failing or restarting is fine, and the draw of collecting all the ship parts will certainly bring them back once they’ve gotten some more practice in on later stages, but having the skip screen pop up just as a level is restarting (often resulting in the controls sticking because I was attempting to move before the screen actually appeared) isn’t. I’m not suggesting its removal as it’s a nice feature to have, but having it come up before players are given control or including an option to turn off the reminder would be great solutions to the issue.

This is really a minor quibble over a great little puzzle game. With over sixty levels spread across three areas (Deep Caverns, Lava Tunnels and Lunar Foundry), and fifty eight ship parts to collect, it should keep all but the most persistent players busy for a while. And since it’s an iOS title, there’s always the hope that Cascadia Games will release a future update with more stages.

… Pretty please?


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