Developer: OneSmartBunny
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★½☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

As the iOS platform gains more and more credibility as a viable source for gaming, more and more genres are finding representation on the App Store. One such genre is the “super-difficult puzzle platformer.” Ever since that anthropomorphic hunk of meat became a massive success, really. Project Mayhem marks another attempt at recreating the experience of wanting to throw things in frustration while simultaneously having a grand old time, but it misses the mark on the “grand old time” half of the equation.

Mayhem is a genetically engineered WMD, recently escaped. He’ll have to work his way through 90 levels across 2 game modes, avoiding all manner of hazards and enemies along the way. A number of classic platforming skills make the task a bit more do-able but their use is limited to specific levels, indicated by special icons on the top right portion of the screen. Completing a stage earns bucks that can be used to buy costume items (with more options like consumables and gadgets planned for future updates), and there’s a medal system in place to encourage repeated attempts.

There’s no shortage of playable content in Project Mayhem, what with the close to 100 levels and more than one game mode. Even better is the way players can access either mode from the start. No being forced to complete one to unlock the other here. Stages are unlocked by completing other stages, but Adventure allows for skipping if things get too obnoxious. Simply tap the right or left arrows on the top of the screen to cycle through available levels instantly. Within reason, of course. I can’t, say, skip ahead to the end after only completing level 5 but if level 6 is giving me trouble I can certainly jump ahead to 7 and come back later.

Despite seeming like a good blend of difficulty and accessibility, Project Mayhem takes a significant misstep with the controls. Movement is slippery, with Mayhem sliding to a stop when the button is released, making the simple act of walking down a hallway with spikes at one end an exercise in frustration. The jumping, on the other hand, is too stringent. Mayhem only has one jump height: obnoxiously high. It makes getting around obstacles that should be simple to pass with decent skills (i.e. a low spiked ceiling) feel impossible. And I can’t for the life of me understand why turning certain abilities like the double-jump on and off in certain levels would ever be considered a good idea.

I get the inherent appeal of Project Mayhem, but I don’t get all the accolades. The controls are restrictive and loose, it looks way too blurry on my 3GS, and most of its possible selling points haven’t actually been implemented yet. Maybe with some time, refinement, and updating it will be the platformer-to-beat, but right now it’s not much of a contender.

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