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Developer: Chillingo
Price: $.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Chimpanzees, bananas, and slingshots, (oh my!) Chillingo’s latest puzzle platformer, Chimpact, has the raw ingredients of a tasty game. Add to the mix a genuinely novel hidden object element and we’ve got prime and primal gaming material.

Chuck and his chimp-mates have two deadly vices: gluttony and avarice. Like many of their brethren they crave bananas, yet also have a strange penchant for bling. That’s all the stage setting needed to jump into this little gem. The object is to trampoline a chimp through 36 levels of natural enemies – each strewn liberally with its favorite snack – towards the home base. On each level there are hidden gems, a minimum number of which must be collected to proceed. They serve in place of a star system, although some levels require perfection and as a result it feels less formulaic as incentives than those found in most puzzle games.

With one-touch controls we fling the primate protagonist into forests or swamps to seek out treasure while dodging creepy crawlies who want to block Chuck’s way or inflict fatal wounds. Players must chuck Chuck carefully, often with exasperating precision, not only from bouncer to bouncer but also through hidden knotholes and across toppling branches, all while keeping a sharp eye out for shiny things.

For the most part, Chimpact is easy, suited to children as well as experienced gamers, but there is a frustration factor. The lush, beautifully rendered levels sprawl well beyond the margins of the screen, making it hard to plan ahead. The camera can pan around a little, but it costs time and the view is restricted to a small area surrounding Chuck. Some system for greater visual exploration would help.

That said, this novel use of seek-and-finds adds depth to what might otherwise be yet another flinging-animal puzzle game. Also adding reply value are enough mini games in Totem Trial mode to amuse (yup, I’m gonna to say it) a barrel full of monkeys. There are time sensitive challenges, obstacle avoidance assignments, and destructive sorties. They have a little monotony about them in that they all rely on the same core mechanics, but the permutations are many and clever. This mode is more likely to send one running to the shop for power-ups than Gem Quest mode. They can be had via banana barter. Bananas are on sale by the bunch (Day-O!) via in-app purchase, but the levels are littered with them, making consideration of the current banana exchange rate unnecessary unless one’s particularly eager to unlock Chuck’s friends or dress him up.

Chimpact makes me hungry. Mostly for bananas, but also for one more round of play, making it easy to recommend to those who enjoy this type of (one more) iOS monkey business.

 

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