App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Fixie Joe is billed as a sort of homage to classic platformers. Some pretty big names are thrown around in the App Store description, and it's more than enough to raise any fan's hopes. However, trying to compare one's game to the cornerstones of a genre can actually work against it, and this is pretty much a textbook example of just such a problem. It may be an homage, but it's nowhere near as good (or even as polished) as its inspirations.
Poor Joe is putting in late hours one night at the factory when a storm rolls through the area and wreaks havoc with all the worker robots' electronics. Things get wrecked, robots get uppity, and he's the only mechanic there to do anything about it. In addition to jumping his way through massive cogs, across moving platforms, and over berserk automatons he'll also have to collect nuts and wrenches to repair busted machinery. Assuming he can make it to the end of a stage he'll also get a letter grade ranking. It's a simple matter of holding and dragging left or right on the left side of the screen to move, and tapping on the right to jump.
Fixie Joe sports some fairly bland and awkward animations, but the visuals themselves are actually quite impressive. The robots and backgrounds are nicely detailed, and the lighting is pretty darned cool. I also found the option to continue a game from the last checkpoint, even after closing it out entirely, to be a nice feature. It's actually one I'm starting to wish a lot more platformers included since it's remarkably handy. The persistent nut-collection is nice as well. Falling off a ledge or getting nabbed by a robot can be frustrating but when all the gathered nuts still count as being acquired even after restarting at a checkpoint it really softens the blow.
Unfortunately, playing Fixie Joe just isn't much fun. For one thing the controls are too stiff: in-air jump adjustments aren't allowed, and Joe always jumps at the same height and trajectory. This leads to an awful lot of early jumps, late jumps, missed jumps, and aggrivating restarts. Being forced to scour a level for nuts needed to repair an essential piece of machinery is also a problem because it sometimes forces players to backtrack; fighting against the controls the whole time, of course.
There are some fun concepts behind Fixie Joe, but none of them are executed well enough to actually make it entertaining. The biggest offender is definitely the controls, though. Assuming they ever an adjustment we could end up with a reasonably neat platformer on our hands but for now it's in serious need of some fixin'.