Developer: The Iconfactory
Price: FREE, with in-game purchases for extra levels
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone

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

Astronut is one of those games that is so simple in concept and so elegant in presentation that you wish you could have had something to do with its creation. It bears a cursory similarity to the insanely popular Doodle Jump, but allows for more nuanced gameplay and a delightfully animated graphical style. It’s a freemium game, so there’s no reason to avoid downloading it. The first four levels are included for free, but you will probably find yourself forking out the extra $1.99 for the additional 14 levels.

Like Doodle Jump, Astronut’s goal is to keep your astronaut character moving further and further up the screen (the game is played completely in portrait mode), but really the similarities between the two games end there. For one thing, Astronut has clearly defined levels, unlike Doodle Jump’s journey forever and ever upwards. Make it past the finish line in Astronut, and you’re golden – until the next level at least. Rather than using a traditional jump mechanism, Astronut relies on gravity and the rotation of planets for movement. Every object you land on in Astronut is spinning 360 degrees, so you have to time your jumps (or boosts, which make for longer, more controlled jumps) carefully to get where you need to land next. Since you’re in space, there is no falling; you’ll just be pulled to the next available planetary body.

You also don’t have an offensive weapon, and there is a wide variety of enemies which stand in your way. Get hit or captured by an enemy three times and you’re health is depleted and the game is over (unless you land on a health refill icon, another nice touch). You will occasionally find help along the way, including a shield which destroys enemies. You also play bonus rounds every two or three levels which place you in a top-down game where your goal is to guide your ship over as many bonus items as possible in a limited amount of time. It’s fun, and even better, it breaks up the gameplay nicely.

Astronut was created by developer Icon Factory, and their tendency towards ease of use and clever, bright graphics suffuses the entire game. Sound effects and music are clean and crisp and help create a real atmosphere in the game. In short, this is a very well-designed game and one of those perfect “pick up and play” apps that is sure to keep casual gamers interested for a while. It’s free (at least the first four levels are) so you have no excuse. It’s almost launch time.

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