App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Tightrope Theatre is a platformer full of micro-levels where you pilot a jester on a unicycle as they try to complete an array of increasingly complicated and dangerous stunts. It feels nice to control and offers up some decent mechanical variety, but there are times when its tiny challenges will test your patience.
Hop to it
Unlike some platformers that take you on some grand adventure, Tightrope Theatre's conceit is that you are a circus performer. As such, you are constantly confined to small performance areas that usually consist of tightropes, bumpers, barrels, spikes and more with your task being to get from a starting platform to an ending one.
All of these levels are condensed such that they all fit comfortably on a single screen, with no scrolling or other camera movement necessary to let you see your starting point, the goal, and everything in between. This condensed nature also means levels are so tightly compacted that there's only really one path through a level that you simply have to make sure you execute on.
Go with the flow
A big breaking point for platformers is how well they control. This is doubly true for an experience that asks you to thread some pretty narrow needles as Tightrope Theatre does. Luckily, your ability to steer your unicycle feels nice and tight despite the fact that there is a bit of momentum to your movements (seeing as you're sitting atop a wheel and all that).
The controls are also quite simple, which helps for a touch screen platformer. You just have directional buttons for left and right and a jump button that you can tap for short hops or press when you need to get enough airtime to clear gaps.
Practice makes perfect
Across all of Tightrope Theatre, there aren't special powerups or more complicated abilities you earn as a performer. Instead, the collections of levels get built around different environmental features, asking you to master each one across 60 individual levels before moving on to the next one.
As the challenge ramps up in Tightrope Theatre, you can find yourself dying a lot, but the game knows this and luckily auto-restarts you so you hardly have any downtime. If you fail a level too many times, you can also take advantage of a skip button that allows you to keep making progress to see the game through to the end.
Tightrope Theatre is a free game, with the only purchase available for it being a $2.99 fee to remove ads. This is a welcome and recommended purchase if you plan to play the game in its entirety, as ads really disrupt the flow of the game. Even with removing them, though, Tightrope Theatre can feel a bit tedious as its challenge ramps up while the tools you're given to overcome them remain unchanged.
The bottom line
Tightrope Theatre doesn't try to do anything too ambitious, and for the most part that's fine. Its levels are generally clever and varied enough to keep you entertained even if you basically do the same things through all of them. That said, you can certainly run up against levels that feel too tedious to master, and the skip button--while appreciated--doesn't fix that problem so much as it steps around it.