App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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As a total sucker for all things retro, it was nigh impossible to pass up the chance to take a look at AchooBoxes!. Unfortunately the game fails to live up to expectations thanks solely to an unpolished control scheme, but even without the magic of The Bit Factor it still manages to be an entertaining experience.
It's a puzzle platformer, so the story isn't all that important, but it involves a king who needs the player to control various subjects in order to get them to the exits on each stage. It's about as much of a reason as one would need to start moving pixelated characters across moving platforms, really. With the exception (or rather omission) of jumping, everything starts off fairly standard: push boxes into holes to form bridges, avoid spikes, activate mobile floating platforms and so on. Fortunately things get a bit more complex a few levels in as new character types such as the all-important king and the box-reversing engineer are introduced.
The puzzles in AchooBoxes! can go from "too easy" to "how the heck do I beat this?" very quickly. Things wind down as a new element or character gets introduced, but before long they shoot right back up to Head Scratcher territory. Then camp out for a while. Perhaps over the weekend in order to "get away from it all." This can actually be a good thing because it pads the length a bit and emphasizes the game's touted "more than one way out" solutions. Like any good puzzle game, it forces players to think differently and will probably have them pondering the solution to a particularly tough stage even while they aren't playing. And were it not for a set of controls that's decidedly lacking, I think I'd be a little more excited about it all.
The controls aren't horrible, really, they just need some polish. Actually, a little more than "some." It's chock full of simple little niggles that just need a bit of tweaking; such as the inability to slide a thumb from one directional arrow to the other (the character just keeps walking in the original direction until the screen is released), characters falling into gaps that they should be able to run across, character-switching and object interaction buttons that don't always work on the first press and so on. I hate to say that all these little things drag down the experience, but a lot of little things do add up.
To be fair, there are far worse offerings on the App Store that cost just as much or more. And really, AchooBoxes! isn't a bad game as-is. It's just that with a couple of updates it could probably be "great" instead of "okay." Still, retro-suckers such as myself probably won't regret spending the dollar, even if that update never comes.