Developer: CHILLINGO
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPod Touch

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

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Hooga is a side-scrolling adventure in the 16-bit style. It’s the adventure of a caveman, out to save his cavewoman from the baddies. The game reminded me a lot of the old Bonk adventures on the Nintendo consoles … except I enjoyed Bonk’s adventures, whereas I really couldn’t get into Hooga. The game’s tagline is, “Are you ready for a new era?” But there’s surprisingly little that’s new here. It’s a by the numbers side-scroller that doesn’t impress.

The best part of the game is probably the graphics, which are bright and cartoony and have some appeal. They’re not necessarily well-animated, though, with most monsters — and Hooga himself — exhibiting a bit of chopiness as they go. It doesn’t help that everything shuffles along, including the hero, plodding through the levels without even an option to run forward.

Hooga plays on all the standard caveman stereotypes — knuckle-dragging, fur-toga-wearing, stone-wielding ape-man making his way through a prehistoric landscape full of dinosaurs, giant birds, and plenty of neolithic stone. You get the expected platforming levels — ice, fire, desert, water — and the expected upgrades — more life, newer weapons, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this, but nothing terribly memorable or clever about it, either.

The controls are also a bit of a mess. Hooga’s primary means of acting is through jumping and double-jumping — to grab vines, spin attack, “parachute” down, etc. The problem is, the double-tap-and-hold required for many of these moves doesn’t register so well. Maybe it’s a small tap point, such that any inaccuracy or sliding will lose contact with it; I don’t know. All I know is that I routinely stopped spinning mid-attack, fell off of a lot of vines, and plummeted in mid-parachute more times than I cared to.

Honestly, here’s Hooga in a nutshell: it’s playable, but not original. If you like side-scrolling adventures and have played through the better titles out there, Hooga, with its decent length and capable game play, might scratch your itch. But I’d wait for it to go free (which it probably will) before picking it up.

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