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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: Dynamo Kid (iPhone)

Orange Pixel’s Dynamo Kid aims to bring the joy of platforming games to the iPhone without complex rules in tow. It offers all the complexity of the genre without on-screen buttons and will present a grand challenge to aficionados.

This is an adorable retro-themed platformer


The gameplay in Dynamo Kid is sufficiently straightforward for a platformer. The game automatically scrolls your character forward, so all you need to do is tap to jump, brush lines to create bridges and stars, and dispose of enemies. What makes the game exceptionally challenging is the amount of tasks that are thrown at you at one time. You are expected to dispose of enemies, push balloons away, draw numerous bridges for our hero to walk on, collect stars, hunt for secrets, and jump all at the same time.

The game gets intense very quickly and will cause those without lightning reflexes to go ballistic. While it’s not impossible to manage all of the action, perfectionists will go mad. Furthermore, it can be tricky to keep up with Dynamo when he’s constantly moving around, so a jump button in the corner would be arguably be superior to tapping on him to jump. Having room to see the screen is essential in a game like this, which requires you to react instantaneously. With one less thumb in the way and improved jump accuracy, the experience would feel all the less inequitable.

What's awesome that you don't get in these screenshots? The music


It appears that the stages continue endlessly until you happen to die, somewhat akin to Doodle Jump. This makes for an interesting experience, as Dynamo Kid tries to be both an arcade-styled score-based game, and one that values progression to the next stage. Some more stages would be pleasant, but the content you are given for $0.99 USD is acceptable.

Once you collect three hidden stars in a stage and die, you can pick another stage to play. You need to be careful to press the “Save Game” button in the corner because the game unfortunately cannot be set to automatically save your progress. This adds unnecessary time between replaying stages (though the waiting time could admittedly be worse).

The iPhone needs more good platformers like this


The tunes and melodies in the game are what truly left me flabbergasted. The music/sound effects are automatically turned off, but you can turn them on after tweaking a few settings. Why you would want the music to be turned off is beyond me, because the soundtrack featured in Dynamo Kid is possibly the best I’ve ever heard in an iOS game. It has a retro flair that takes you back to the days of the Sega Genesis but the soundtrack never feels like it’s trying too hard to emulate the titles of yore. The composers behind the musical masterpieces in Dynamo’s adventure deserve to be involved in big-name projects.

Graphically, Dynamo Kid goes for a retro style that is both uncomplicated and effective. Each stage starts out looking drab and suffers from a deficiency of color, but as you progress through the level, it gradually becomes more and more attention-grabbing. There are also subtle details that accentuate the visuals, such as the way Dynamo Kid’s hair blows in the wind.

Dynamo Kid is a terrific and intense platformer, though it’s hard to shake the feeling that the developers were on the verge of creating the next big thing. If future updates add new stages and fine-tune the experience, Dynamo Kid has the potential to take the App Store by storm. Just be aware that this title will push you to insanity if you aren’t careful.

- Clark A



Review: Dynamo Kid (iPhone)
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