Developer: Nerlaska Studio
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

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

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Toy Matters & The Hook Machine makes a first impression as alluring as its toy box world. Significant flaws eventually surface, but they are overpowered by the bursting creativity. However, if players are unwilling to master it, it ends up being a pretty fleeting experience.

Players take control of a stuffed toy rabbit attempting to flee candy machine environments by jumping all the way to the top. Speedy players are rewarded with medals while players who take too much time are soon forced to deal with the looming hook machine. The vertical platforming stages start out simple enough, but soon the level design becomes gleefully clever. Platforms collapse, sprout spikes and catch on fire. Players blast out of cannons Donkey Kong Country style, bounce on trampolines and use their ears to glide across rows of fans. Levels also feature harder alternate pathways filled with more stars to cash in for more medals. At times, the experience almost feels like a full-fledged side-scrolling adventure.


However, the honeymoon with Toy Matters & The Hook Machine ends a little too quickly. The cheeky, manic cartoon world, while full on great touches like its running and gliding animations, borders on obnoxious. Particularly, backgrounds are packed with visual clutter that can obscure important level details needed to proceed while the music just gets annoying. Tilting the device to move and tapping to jump actually feels pretty good, but the movement itself is a bit too slippery for some of the precise jumps needed later in the game.

What’s most problematic though is how short the initial experience is. Players can cruise through the first world in a few minutes and to unlock the other three they’ll have to earn a sizable amount of medals. Upgrading character stats or buying new ones, as well as paying to disable the lengthy in-game ads, can make that process faster and easier. However, it’s still a surprisingly lengthy investment for a child’s fantasy adventure.

Toy Matters & The Hook Machine starts out so fun and so fresh that its later pacing issues are all the more disappointing. It’s sweet in the beginning, but its aftertaste leaves something to be desired.

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