Who would have guessed that a game about a running pop bottle would end up being the most harrowing platformer on iOS? It makes enough sense if you really think about it: when you’re made of glass like the hero of Frenzy Pop (Out Now, $0.99 for iPhone and iPad), just about anything can shatter you to bits.
Sharing the ill luck of numerous action movie stars, Mr. Pop will find himself getting run down by spiked walls and giant snowballs — there’s no room for hesitation when push comes to shove in Frenzy Pop. Not only do you push him along at top speed, but you have to react appropriately to the dangers in his path: rolling under low-hanging saw blades and making him take carbonated flight when a normal jump just won’t cut it. Demanding perfect reflexes and plenty of trap memorization, Frenzy Pop’s toughest levels will be a challenge seeker’s delight and a casual gamer’s nightmare. And if the 30 regular levels aren’t enough to get your heart racing, an extra five challenge levels await at the end of every world.
If you’ve got the right amount of guts to step up to challenges like that, you’ll find Frenzy Pop well varied and perfectly suited to quick bursts of gameplay. The developer does a superb job of keeping the game’s challenge curve on a steep incline while tossing in breather levels right where they’re needed. In contrast to the tightly scripted and sure-to-be-infamous chase sequences, these give the player a little more leeway to use Mr. Pop’s wall climbing, rolling and soda-powered flight creatively. Most of your time is spent probing a little further into the current level while you figure out how to avoid the most dangerous traps. With that determined, a given level will typically last ten to thirty seconds.
A great mix of stages is Frenzy Pop’s best attribute, but the game’s physics are a bit stressed by the level design spectrum. Mr. Pop’s instantaneous momentum makes the chase levels go smoothly once you’ve got the right sequence of actions burned into your nervous system. However, it can make precision jumping and flight through narrowly spaced saws a pain in a few of the more open levels. While the developers continue seeking that perfect balance in updates, the game requires a much lighter touch on those directional buttons in some stages than in others for the time being. The touch response areas on the user interface are spot on in any case.
High-res sprites and a fun score by Shaz Yousaf of Honey Tribe Studios give Frenzy Pop just the kind of atmosphere you’d expect in a ninety-nine cent platformer. In a really nice touch, Mr. Pop’s contents spray all over the saw blades usually responsible for his demise and remain there during successive attempts, giving you a certain satisfaction when he finally slips past dangers that shattered him previously.
iFanzine Verdict: Not one for casual players, but Frenzy Pop will give you a satisfying run for your money if you’re a diehard platforming champ.