Developer: Shawn Kennedy
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Donkey Jump advertises itself as maybe “the hardest platform game you have ever played” and it might be right. Unfortunately said difficulty comes not from challenging puzzles or clever design but rather sloppy controls and shoddy collision detection. There is a somewhat enjoyable game to be found here but there is a lot to put up with to find it.
Donkey Jump is a platformer where players traverse a large landscape, avoiding traps and enemies, while searching for other donkeys that have been presumably kidnapped. The story and goals are anything but explicit. To progress players will jump, double jump, and even use bizarre sonic boom projectiles to take out rats and bees. There is verticality to the level design that is surprising in a good way. Going to the right often leads to dead ends and because of that players will have to search for the critical path in directions they may not expect, like up. It’s the most original thing the game has going for it.
However, that verticality is also responsible for the game’s most frustrating moments. Ascending higher and higher into the stage is only fun until the inevitable point where the character comes crashing down due to the slippery controls and is forced to do the whole thing over again. Granted, all touch controls have a certain level of imprecision but here they feel even more off than usual. That combined with the wonky physics system and occasionally broken hit detection that has players getting stuck in walls creates too many situations where the player fails because of the game’s technical shortcomings. Being the one truly at fault is one of the most frustrating things a game can do. The game does support iCade and iControlPad though so hopefully those might alleviate these control issues.
At least the music is pretty good and appropriate for the volcanic region the game takes place in. The visuals are competent but simplistic and the 3D models of the donkeys themselves are downright ugly. However, that might just be because they are donkeys. Along their journey players can collect beans by simply walking over them or shaking their device to get them from trees, a neat gimmick. These beans can then be used to buy content like extra playable characters. Players can also pay actual money for these beans but it probably isn't worth it.
By giving players a decent amount of lives and plenty of time to explore the level, Donkey Jump seems at least aware of its own difficulty. Still, that isn’t enough to make up for how one must fight against the game itself to make any progress. It’s hard for all the wrong reasons.