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Developer: APD Inc
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

I keep hearing rhythm games are dead, yet hardly a week goes by when I don’t see a new one in the App Store. They generally come in two varieties: hit the notes as they cross a playline like the Tapulous series, or platforming games that use music and beats to help control the action like Beat Sneak Bandit. Mad Acorn, the latest music game that falls loosely into the second category, is a great example of how to distill a concept to its core, then create so much visual appeal it compensates for the simplicity.

Normally I ignore backstories or wrap them up quickly, but Mad Acorn is set in a comic book world. I won’t spoil the plot, because the comic panels are arguably the best part of the package. As for gameplay, players have the easiest objective. The game is an auto runner, so the irate squirrel hero moves relentlessly forward across levels based in four worlds. By keeping the beat with a touch anywhere on the screen players ensure he jump over hurdles and punches foes with one tap. The game adjusts the specific action to fit the circumstances so all there really is to do is listen to the drums and baseline and tap along.

Most beats coincide with something to kill or avoid, but there are “missing” beats too. Players can find them by listening carefully to the pattern and tapping even when no obstacle is present. It’s a neat feature, but oddly not one players earn any reward for beyond hearing a thump and seeing the number found at the end of the level in the stats.

The music is unusual and likely underground. I don’t quite know what to call it. It’s got heavy bass and an electronic dance vibe. It’s auspicious if one happens to like the grooves, since the game isn’t easy – tracks replay quite a lot. Once gamers find the tempo, however, getting long combos is easy.

I had a little trouble with the controls on iPad. I have a decent sense of rhythm and sometimes found my taps went unregistered even in early levels. But, the game is forgiving, Mad Acorn allots players three lives that can be replenished occasionally by taking out baddies with hearts over their heads.

Mad Acorn hasn’t much depth, but it does have some really nice visuals, the great art, and inherent replay value based on desire to get better, rather than through extraneous incentives. It’s a great pick-up-and-play title and solid summer casual gaming choice.


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