Developer: Honeyslug
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPod Touch

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

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

The latest entrant to burst onto the iPhone’s puzzle scene is Kahoots, a charming little puzzle platformer that works hard in the hopes of being noticed in a crowded market. Though the game offers immense amounts of challenge and tricky level design which will challenge even the most hardened puzzler, the overly-cutesy art direction and confusing level layout may be enough to turn off some players.

Kahoots is yet another “get your character to the exit while avoiding certain death” games, but the hook is players must constantly shift the environment to deliver their little blue friend to safety. Most squares on the floor are just standard floor tiles, but sometimes you can find a spring box which will catapult the Kahoot or a trapdoor that will allow you to duck out of harm’s way. Also, later stages introduce the Cardborgs, Kahoot-eating baddies who must be kept away from your character, but which are also necessary to breaking down cardboard barriers that block progress. All these mechanics, coupled with the added challenge of grabbing each level’s bonus cupcake, make Kahoots one of the more challenging entrants in the genre.

Looking at the game you wouldn’t think it’s a hardened puzzler though, as the cutesy art direction screams kid’s game rather than supreme challenge. New level mechanics are sung to players via the tutorial Pegbeast, and the cotton candy world the Kahoots exist in look like they feel out of a six-year-old girl’s doodles. The overall environment is painfully saccharine, standing starkly at odds with the challenging nature of the levels. The two extremes make it hard to tell if this is a game aimed at really smart elementary school students or overly ironic hipster adults.

Kahoots has been around for a while both on the PC and the PSP as a Mini, so there’s a decent chance if you’re a puzzle fan that you’ve played it before. If so then you’re getting the same experience on iOS, but with OpenFeint leaderboards and therefore the added benefit of multiplayer challenges. If you can get past (or even embrace) how annoyingly adorable the game is then you’ll likely find a fulfilling challenge, but that can be a rather big leap to make.

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