Developer: Chillingo
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

photo(2)Chillingo’s Incredible Jack is the happy-go-luckiest platformer on the iOS app store. I took control of the determined Dad, who set out on an insurmountable journey to rescue his beloved wife and offspring from the core-dwelling “demons.” The whimsical “Timbergrote” hooked me; its joyful art-style and touching plot really plucked at my heart-strings. Yet, no sooner than a few thorns and oddly shaped enemies later, I despised the oblivious grin on Jack’s face.

Incredible Jack controlled easy and made platforming almost workman-like. With virtual controls of left-right and a single jump button, the entry skill-level is minimal. When tapping Jack out of harm’s way, the v-buttons are definitely responsive and extremely forgiving. When clean taps are not made, all character maneuvers still performed effectively. After extended play, I noticed enemies move in dynamic patterns with increased frequency, but Jack did not evolve. This is a great disadvantage at times as players can only jump, when its obvious, that ducking is a more appropriate approach (especially against flying enemies). IJ’s lack of multiple buttons is a small deduction from what is a well-controlled experience.

As Jack continued to smile, the gameplay made my face sour. I like the collection of power-ups like red speedy shoes to quickly scat away from mean insects and a flight-enabled propeller hat to move vertically and get hard-to-reach coins. But somehow, they feel more like gimmicks than necessities. Some of the spaces in IJ are ridiculously tight, combined with the lack of wide-camera angles, makes using certain power-ups risky because I simply can’t gauge what danger I’m possibly speeding or flying towards. Something just feels “off;” the enemies either move too dynamically to fight in tight spaces or Jack is too large to creatively attack in bottle-necked areas.

photo(1)Still, Incredible Jack is incredibly endearing. The story consistently reverberates emotion as each level completed leads to an affectionate embrace by one of Jack’s children. The music and ambiance of each level stays rich and dreamy; their design brings great nostalgia of childhood books where subjects of “good” looked as such and everything “bad” was not as scary as portrayed.Incredible Jack will play equally well to both a younger and older crowd. It’s definitely worth a peek but may not stick as its quirkiness is interrupted by uneven gameplay.

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