Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S
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The forest can be a very dangerous place, brimming with hazards and predators. Jack the sugar glider knows this as well as anyone. In the new game Updraft Jack from Metaversal Studios, players have to help Jack run and glide his way as far as possible through the forest while outrunning the owl bent on getting Jack in its claws. This game is essentially a running game where the goal is to last as long and get as far as possible; it's in the same vein as games like Canabalt and Jetpack Joyride.
Updraft Jack is a simple game with gorgeous trimmings. Players tap the screen to make the little sugar glider jump and when they hold down, he glides. Running through the lush forest environment, players have to avoid obstacles like beehives and baby birds while trying to collect beetles. Collecting more beetles will keep the owl at bay. Not collecting enough will bring the owl swooping down to snatch Jack up in its talons.
The forest is beautifully depicted in this game and that beauty isn't marred in the least by the speed at which it passes by. There are various levels to the forest ranging from the root covered floor to the leafy heights. Jack will find himself running on and jumping over plants of all sizes and shapes, each designed to perfection and placed in the environment in a way that gives it a charming sense of real organic growth. Some elements are in the background, some are in the foreground, and they all work together to add depth and layers to the game's visuals. Easy controls also mean that the screen isn't cluttered up with unneeded buttons or covered up by player's fingers so they can really enjoy all the hard work put into the environments.
Best of all, Updraft Jack is free. There are optional in-app purchases to get large amounts of beetles which are used as an in-game currency instead of collecting them during the game. These beetles are used to purchase upgrades, new skins for Jack, and powerups to help him get farther. This is a fun game and for the price it's certainly worth jumping in, even if it's just to enjoy a run through a really pretty forest.