Generally one does not expect to be reviewing a recently released game on iOS when the developer’s Kickstarter failed to reach their expanded platform stretch-goal, and yet here we are all the same. In Frenzied Marmot’s Cockatilt (out now, $0.99) you’ll need to help Fritter — a pudgy Cockatiel, whom has grown too fat to fly — safely reach her food bowl across 42 levels (all while possibly discovering Life, the Universe, and Everything). You will — in order to succeed — need to properly arrange all of the platforms around Fritter’s cage so that she may successfully reach her super yummy food tray within a single mighty bound, as well as a lot of bouncing and rolling about.
Early on — however — you’ll only need to direct Fritter’s initial hop, which can executed by dragging you finger from the pudgy Cockatiel in whichever direction that you wish for her to leap towards. Furthermore, Fritter will lunge across her cage with an exuberance equal to how far away you moved your finger before releasing (which will additionally have an affect upon how she bounces off any surfaces she comes into contact with). Finally — should she brush across the top of any ladders — the pudgy Cockatiel will immediately grab onto it, and afterwards proceed to happily climb downwards one rung at a time (regardless of whether or not this will lead her straight towards looming failure).
While getting Fritter to her food is all well and good — and does indeed unlock the next stage as a result — it’s not exactly all that hard to pull off, and not necessarily rewarding either. However — as is often expected of games from the “Physics Puzzler” genre — merely getting to each level’s ending is not all that can be done here, which is why a slew of super yummy seeds and bonus apple slices are riddled across each of the 42 stages. Attempting to gather all of the seeds or fruits within a single stage — with each level containing as assortment of both — will prove to be to quite the mind-boggling challenge, and furthermore leads to Cockatilt containing far more game play that you’d at first think.
Upon finishing a level the highest numbers of fruit slices and bonus seeds gathered so far will be tallied up; even if your current maximum fruit count was gathered during one attempt, and your maximum seed count during another. Therefore — even though everything must be obtained to truly master a level — you are free to gather all of a stage’s seeds and apple slices during different play throughs, and — quite often — must do just that. In this regard Cockatilt may as well actually have a staggering 84 different puzzles to crack, since the path for simultaneously gathering every seed will often be quite different than the path for gathering every last apple slice (just avoid the nasty tasting green ones).
As you go on you will eventually begin running into stages with repositionable platforms that can be drug around — and sometimes even rotated — before Fritter makes her big leap, thus giving Cockatilt far more complexity than merely finding your initial launch vector. The existence of these platforms do — however — exacerbate an issue that I’ve always had with the Physics Puzzler genre: the fact that, thanks to each and every platform constantly resetting to their default position, it’s often very hard to iterate your way towards success. The conundrum of trying to replicate where you put everything — or even just recreating the exact same leap again — often means that your attempt to fix one wrong element usually ends with you breaking something else, and can quickly become a vicious cycle.
This isn’t, however, to say that I loathed playing Cockatilt — quite the opposite actually — but I do wish that there was an option for platforms to stay where you put them, or even an on screen graphic that precisely showed how you aimed your previous leap. Realistically, this is more of a complaint with the entire genre — rather than Cockatilt specifically — and therefore I reiterate that long-time Physics Puzzler fans perhaps shouldn’t listen to me too heavily regarding this matter. After all, guiding Fritter to her food bowl on each stage — via two radically different paths — was not only an intellectually stimulating challenge, but provided me with an absolute overload of cuteness as well.
Anyways — getting back to focus — there is one more mechanic for players to deal with in Cockatilt, Fritter’s ever despised rival: Dumpling, whom frustratingly isn’t quite nearly as plump. On levels where Dumpling is present he’ll begin to slowly make a bee-line towards the stage’s yummy seed tray; which in turn forces players to not only choose a suitably fast path, but to furthermore get all of their ducks quickly in a row as well. This element of expediency is actually quite the novel concept for a genre that is otherwise normally centered entirely around carefully lining up that one singularly perfect attempt.
iFanzine Verdict: Cockatilt is a 42 level physics puzzler that has recently found its way over to iOS, wherein you attempt to guide a plump Cockatiel over to her favorite food tray within just a single ricocheting bound. The game is not only cute, but the fact that each level can be played either in an attempt to grab all the seeds — or all the apple slices — further adds a unique replay element to each and every stage. Our only concern — amongst all of this precision jumping, and platform rearranging — is that having everything constantly reset can often make it rather hard to iterate upon your strategy.