Mikey Hooks Review: Entertaining Platformer Swings Ahead
The retro side-scrolling action game has found quite a niche in the App Store. Titles in the App Store like League of Evil, Hook Champ, or Gravity Guy have found large audiences. Now, a new game is seeking to win the hearts of players: Mikey Hooks, a game that plays right into that niche.
In Mikey Hooks the task is simple: get Mikey to the end of each level … each spike-filled, alien-populated level. To help him along, Mikey carries a hook shot that allows him to swing off of pivot points, avoiding enemies and collecting coins. How fast can you get Mikey across the finish line?
Mikey Hooks is kin to a lot of the short-level, fast-play, side-scrolling platformer. It’s got the same retro sensibilities, pixelated graphics, enemy-filled boards, and one-more-time drive. Any single board can be finished in under two minutes (and one minute, if you’re good enough), and it’s easy to get into a couple of boards while you wait for an appointment or ride the train to work.
In the case of Mikey Hooks, the interesting design choice is to make a game that rewards players who treat it almost like an endless runner, all while still being accessible to those who want to play more like a traditional platformer. The way they do this is by tying the now-ubiquitous three stars for each level into the speed with which you complete each board. The first time through you will almost certainly earn just a single star; and only by practicing a board, getting to know the paths and the timings, can you hope to reach the three-star speed.
While this speed-run scheme can be fun, it does leave each board a little deviod of interest. You can slow down, but there’s no hidden objects or doors. Really, the only point to playing is to practice the fastest route to the finish.
And you WILL need to practice, especially in the early levels as you get used to the controls. There’s nothing wrong with them per se, but the speed with which Mikey moves, as well as the physics of the game (Mikey gets no “air” when he jumps), can throw you off as you try to navigate things.
In keeping with this sort of game the look of Mikey Hooks is retro, in this case 16-bit retro. Colors are bright, character designs are simple, and the soundtrack is jaunty. As part of the in-game look, Mikey Hooks also features a huge number of purchasable character disguises — hats, glasses, beards, and more. While these disguises are fun, some of them are more successful in the retro graphics style than others. A few of them barely look different than the default Mikey. But none of them are ridiculously expensive; at about 200 coins on average, you will usually be able to buy something new every couple of levels.
I can’t say that Mikey Hooks engaged me at the level of some recent similar games (Gravity Guy 2 comes to mind), but it is a cleanly executed and clever entry into side-scrolling action genre. Fans of the genre will want to give it a try.
Our Score; 4 out of 5
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