Developer: BeaverTap Games
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5, iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

Mikey Hooks takes the sublime speed-run platformer Mikey Shorts and adds grappling hooks to it. I love Mikey Shorts and I love grappling hook games. I’m no mathematician (I’m a writer instead) but that adds up to Mikey Shorts being an incredible game.

MikeyHooks_screen-01Through 24 story levels and 12 race levels, players must run, jump, and swing their way through levels as quickly as possible. As this is the second game in the series, the training wheels have been taken off: now players have limited health and can die when touching spikes, and there’s a lot more freedom in path-taking as the trapped humans aren’t in the levels any more. The story levels still have challenges for collecting all the coins (which are used to unlock a wild variety of new disguises) and finding the hidden golden shorts in each level.

The grappling hook mechanic, one that BeaverTap Games clearly loves because the two members of the studio met while competing in Rocketcat’s grappling hook games, is just sublimely executed here. Tapping jump while in midair will swing from the grapple point that’s specifically targeted on-screen. The grappling is easy to get in to and use, and just feels great to swing from point to point, making that smooth path work out perfectly. The controls are as excellent as ever, too. Everything, from the level design to the swinging to even the new, more colorful landscapes is just about perfectly done.

MikeyHooks_screen-07My only concern is that the formula for the sequel was perhaps too conservative. I love the grappling hooks, I really do, but I would love to see exploration in the story levels play a bigger part in the proceedings. However, due in large part to Game Center restrictions, future levels will be in the race mode, which is fun, but has a more singular focus. Plus, I feel like the grappling may have made some of the levels a bit less creative than Mikey Shorts – there’s nothing on par with the underwater maze level from the original, which was a fun challenge. If future levels explore the core gameplay to a greater degree, I’ll be absolutely pleased.

And really, these are all nit-picks on a practically flawless package. The grappling is a fantastic addition that doesn’t ruin what makes this series so great. The social features like in-game leaderboards and sharing will make fast-time competitions spread among competitors. The wacky costumes (including hats from indie games) are back and plentiful. This is one of the most polished experiences in iOS gaming, and it has grappling hooks now. I offer Mikey Hooks my highest recommendation.

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