Version Reviewed: 1.0
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Freeverse has shown a knack in the past for discovering what people want in a simple iDevice app. Not all of their apps become hits, but they consistently have apps like Flick Fishing and Skee-Ball that become top 10 stalwarts. The recipe for their success is simple... each hit app has been easy to understand, has simple to get but hard to master controls, runs without any semblance of lag, and uses bright colors with clean lines. If it looks pretty and is easy to pick up and play, it's gold.
[caption id="attachment_26586" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="I feel like Brad Pitt in Snatch."]
[/caption]Parachute Ninja, Freeverse's latest foray into the casual gaming market, takes this simple strategy and runs with it. You start the game as a "ball being" whose life was destroyed when his family gets killed when the "ones with plans of destruction descended". With nothing left, you go to your uncle, Master Yo, who just happens to be a ninja trainer. After your quick training, you take your ninja skills (parachute jumping) and embark on a quest to find the ones who killed your parents. Your quest takes you through 30 levels, from basic training to the big "?" level at the end. The fun doesn't stop with the story mode though, there is also a solid Survival Mode that tests your ninja speed, as well as the inclusion of Freeverse's solid Plus+ Network that keeps track of your in-game accomplishments.
The gameplay itself feels like a mix of Doodle Jump and Parachute Panic. You start each level on a slingshot platform, and must slingshot yourself from platform to platform, dodging all sorts of obstacles, from spiked walls to floating bad guys, while collecting gold coins. The controls are as simple as they come... just pull down on the slingshot and fling yourself onto the next platform. Being a ninja, you also have access to a parachute (what?) that lets you float a bit. In parachute mode you can tilt the accelerometer to the right or left, depending on where you want to go. Occasionally the accelerometer can get a little finicky, but it may have more to do with the abuse my phone takes than the game being unresponsive.
The graphics and sound are exactly what you would expect from a large developer. The colors are all quite vibrant, especially in the cut-scenes that accompany every few levels to keep the story going along. There are no hangups throughout the game, and you only have to wait a few seconds for each level to load... even on my iPhone 3G. The sound is your typical Asian fare, and it fortunately adds to the overall experience, rather than crushing your ear drums with typical game sounds.
While Parachute Ninja isn't an instant classic, it does have all the ingredients for it to jump into the top 10 of the App Store. The graphics are smooth and crisp, the gameplay is easy, yet can get hard at later levels, and the concept is simple enough to swallow all player types. The Story Mode on its own would be enough to garner high priase, but with the addition of the Survival Mode, Parachute Ninja really is a must buy.