Version Reviewed: v1.0
Graphics / Sound [rating:3/5]
Game Controls [rating:4.5/5]
User Interface [rating:4/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:4/5]
The very first game console I ever owned was an Atari. I spent countless hours with classics such like Astroblast, Combat, Pacman and yes even Pitfall. Hook's art style is a throw back to the old pixelated days of terrible graphics where gameplay separated the good from the bad. Hook Champ art style draws heavily from games of that era, and adds in simple humour that works really well here.
Hook Champ has a very simple gameplay design. Move left to right using a hook shot (hence the name) in a very linear style map where a giant creature is chasing you. There are alternate paths with the more difficult ones filled with more treasure then the easier ones. The basic gameplay sounds simple and boring, but this is definitely not the case. The controls of jumping, running, swinging and shooting your hook shot make the gameplay tight and rewarding. The dev's have added some additional touches to the experience that really expand on the game that really take it to the next level for me. With all your collected treasure you need a place to spend it, and that comes in the form of the ever so accurately named "Shop". There you can pimp out your character with sweet hats that include the beener, a miner cap and the top hot. You can also upgrade your running speed, hook, rope, buy a shotgun to help protect you from the ghost and give you a boost. There are also a few other items in there that will help you along in your retro adventure.
At first I had a hard time getting used to the controls, but as soon as I upgraded my rope and hook the game felt much smoother. Once I got used to the controls the game opened up considerably. There is a definite easy to learn, difficult to master aspect to this game. Many maps, I made constant mistakes, missed the good treasures because I was terrible but it definitely felt that if I kept playing I could nail those tricky shots.
The game starts out with giving you access to just one set of maps. As you collect the coins in the maps, you can then purchase maps to get access to the other animal themed idols with an increasing difficulty. You'll definitely need to upgrade at some points to give you that extra boost to get through the trickier levels. Each map has a local and global leaderboard that tracks a combination of time and treasure collection. In total you get 5 sets of levels with a difficult curve suggested by the Devs of Wimpy -> Monkey -> Bat -> Frog -> Bull.
This game is exactly what I love about the iPhone. A small time developer has a great simple idea, executes it extremely well and can put it out for me to consume and enjoy. I can't recommend this retro style platformer enough, especially at the price of $2.99. It's the first game I've reviewed here that I think is a must buy. It's too bad this game isn't in the top 100 of games sold on the appstore, because it definitely should be. The game currently has a 4.5 star rating average on the appstore, and it's definitely well deserved.