Developer: Maximilian Csuk
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

rico10The very first thing that drew my eye to Rico was the environment. I like pixel graphics as much as any other self-respecting dork desperately clinging to nostalgia, but simply making something blocky doesn’t automatically make it pretty. The screen shots promised an intriguing world full of danger and the promise of adventure. And for the most part, the game itself delivers on that promise.

Two brothers, one nameless and one called Rico, have been fighting each other for centuries. It’s one of those Yin/Yang things, with their constant struggle holding the universe in balance. However, one day Rico finally gets the upper hand and bests his rival, stripping him of his powers and forcing him to sit and watch while he essentially plunges existence into chaos. Players must guide the unnamed brother on a quest to restore his lost powers and make things right again. A quest that’s very much an action-platformer at heart, with a little twist of adventure.

Rico’s world is just as pretty in-game as it is in the screen shots. The environments are varied and detailed in that special pixilated way. The simple animations of the even simpler main character are also impressive and vaguely hypnotic. The platforming is also suitably impressive with some pretty insidious levels that put reflexes and preplanning skills to the test. They’re also usually mixed up quite well with some focusing on swimming, others on using a temporary jetpack, and some a mixture of all sorts of crazy concepts. And with a fairly steady introduction of new hazards, enemies, and abilities, the levels manage to avoid feeling repetitive.

rico07One of the most important things for any platformer is the level of control the player has over their character. Rico almost has it down but comes up a little short. The main character’s movement is rather slippery – he doesn’t stop moving when the controls are released and can sometimes drift past his intended target – which can be a bit irritating but it’s not so terrible that it can’t be adjusted to. Although it can be particularly troublesome on some of the more insidious levels.

For such a simultaneously unassuming and pretty game, Rico is quite impressive. It’s tough without being excruciating, gives completionists a reason to come back thanks to all the coins (which are tracked) scattered throughout each level, and introduces new concepts regularly enough to avoid becoming a slog. It’s also fun despite the somewhat slippery controls. Rico is definitely something platform fans should be checking out.

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