Version Reviewed: 1.0
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The good platformers on the iPhone so far have been non-traditional affairs (with the notable exception of Castle of Magic) that leverage the iPhone's strength's rather than requiring pixel perfect precision. Now along comes Soosiz, a run-and-jump platformer with a gravity twist.
Soosiz starts off with some inconsequential back story about the land of Soosiz being and peril and the main character having to journey throughout the land and save little Soosizes (or is it Soosi?). You'll have to journey throughout seven worlds, each with seven levels, to save your world. Each level is, basically, a start to finish affair. The main goal is to get to the portal at the end of the level, but additionally, you can go off the path a bit to rescue little Soosizes. At the end of the level, you are awarded a gold, silver, or bronze medal based on the number of little guys you saved.
As far as gameplay is concerned, Soosiz delivers. Each platform has its own gravity, but that gravity is only activated when your character lands on that platform. Most platforms you can walk all the way around, but some have sharp edges that you'll fall off if you walk too far. The gravity element really is central to the game; it is always well-implemented and never feels gimmicky. As far as enemies go, there's enough, but Soosiz could use a little more variety and creativity in this department. There are stars with spikes, homing jellyfish, and hammer bros-like characters, and overall most of the enemies feel too closely related to the Mario family. All enemies are defeated by bouncing on their heads. When it comes to game elements, though, Soosiz doesn't disappoint. There are penguins with springs on their heads, buttons, disappearing platforms, star power (invincibility that is activated by choice after racking up 100 coins, which are scattered throughout levels), hidden secrets, and a plethora more. These elements are introduced gradually and go along well with the smooth difficulty curve. In addition to rescuing Soosizes for medals, you will occasionally rescue Soosizes that give you special abilities like super speed, super jump, and best of all, extra lives (this Soosiz adds two to your always starting three lives per level). The world mechanic is also implemented well. In addition to aesthetic differences, each world has some sort of twist, like the ice world being slippery and the physics in the space world being floaty. There are two types of special levels: boss levels and hidden levels. Boss levels occur at the end of each world and are fairly epic. Hidden levels are unlocked by earning gold medals on normal levels. These levels are non-traditional and vary greatly. Some even involve rolling using the accelerometer Rolando-style. For these levels, the goal is to get as many of the 50 coins as possible before time runs out. There are only two wishes I have for Soosiz gameplay and format-wise. First, I wish there was a more robust medal system that included coins or time. Second, there is no reward for killing enemies and thus it is often better to just avoid them entirely.
Soosiz's control scheme is bare-bones simple. On the left, there are two buttons, a left movement arrow and a right movement arrow. On the right, there is a jump button, and above it, if you have 100 coins, a button to activate star power. Nothing else is needed. All the buttons are the perfect size, sensitivity, and transparency. If you fail, you have no excuses. The only fault is the proximity of the star power button to the jump button.
Due to its graphics, Soosiz is quite a charmer. All of it is 2D, a wise decision by the developers. Each world has its distinctive illustrations, and the game looks like a slightly glossier and more charming Rolando 1. There are also some cool background-changing visual effects. The graphics walk the fine line between charming and overly cutesy. Unfortunately, the audio does not share the same discretion. The in-level music is decent enough, but each level complete screen is accompanied by the inexplicable and utterly annoying "Up on the Rooftop" Christmas Carol.
Soosiz definitely belongs in the pantheon of great iPhone platformers. The level design is exceptional, the graphics are charming, and the controls are flawless. $2.99 is a small price to pay for this gem of a game!