Hunger Crunch (out now, free) by Rice Bowls, Inc. is an impressive side-scrolling platformer that was built for a good cause: fighting hunger. All proceeds from in-app purchases go toward feeding orphaned children in various parts of the world. Despite being developed by a charity, this freemium game is incredibly polished and lots of fun.

Riding on a fanged black mount called Beasty, your job is to collect candy and stomp out Hunger’s minions. The enemies are as varied as the obstacles, which include spiked pits and bombs. Generally, you have to stomp on the enemies from above to kill them. If you bump into them or hit flying enemies from below due to an untimely jump, you’ll lose a life. Flame-carrying minions are to be avoided, however.

level-1The game controls are simple, though I’m so used to tapping a second time to double jump in endless runners that I accidentally stomped more times than I intended. Through stomping on enemies or bouncy creatures/objects, you can spring higher into the air. It feels very satisfying to catch a chain of such jumps and land on higher platforms to collect more candy than you would have found on ground level. Sometimes you can also find collectibles or power-ups.

Hunger Crunch offers a few power-ups for purchase using collected candy or real money. These power-ups may help you attain extra height or speed or magnetic power. There are a total of five, and you’ll get a chance to try each of them for free. You may also buy a fourth heart for an extra life (you start off with three), or a score doubler, but these permanent upgrades are pricey.

The game has twelve levels altogether, with a boss fight after every three levels. But to unlock the second boss fight (eighth level), you’ll have to either earn three stars in all the preceding levels or pay $0.99. It’s the same for the last boss fight. Earning three stars is unfortunately horribly tough. I can’t tell what is required — stomping more minions or grabbing more candy (sometimes you’ll have to lose one to get the other). Still, even with only the first seven levels unlocked, the game offers plenty of replay value. If you keep trying, you might eventually get that elusive three stars.

Verdict

Hunger Crunch is an immensely challenging and well-designed side-scrolling platformer. Although it’s a freemium game with IAPs, it’s for a good cause. So you can remain guilt-free while spending and having fun.