App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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The Mario brothers going for a hike? Well, that was my first impression of the jolly siblings endowed with familiar facial hair and pot bellies who star as intrepid mountaineers in Climber Brothers, but as it turns out that's as far as the comparison goes. Even with the extensive Mario library, I can't think of anything in there that's comparable to Climber Brothers - and that really is saying something.
The 2D camera in Climber Brothers is set behind the brothers as they climb the flat mountain in front of them. The goal in each level is to get one or both of the brothers to the camp, but if either brother falls off then it's back to the start. Simple enough... except, that is, for the swinging mechanics.
Swinging mechanics in physics-based puzzlers aren't anything new, but the way they're applied in Climber Brothers feels fairly unique. Both brothers can be hooked to a mountain by touching the screen; the right side of the screen for one brother and the left side for the other. Releasing the right-hand finger will unhook that brother, causing him to swing from the rope attached to the other brother who now acts as the pivot point. Touching the right-hand finger down will re-hook the brother, hopefully in a new position a little further along the level. Repeating this motion while switching sides with each swing lets you swing the brothers along, and this is the base mechanic of the game, an unusual and charming one it is too.
Of course, applying the mechanic becomes more complicated as the 63 levels evolve and gaps in the mountain, avalanches, and clouds get in the way. There's also a fiendishly placed crystal to find in each level for bonus points, and bonus points are quite tempting because of the game's excellent auto-updating leaderboard system which notes overall and world rankings at the end of each level with a little update message. For all the neat design, though, I do have one gripe; the challenge level across levels can be quite erratic, and it would be nice to be able to skip some of the harder levels rather than having to complete each and every one for progress.
There are plenty of physics-based puzzlers with swinging mechanics on iOS, but Climber Brothers still manages to stand out in spite of its rather derivative tubby brothers. At that price it's hardly a hike for your wallet.