Do you hold a deep personal conviction that “kitties are cute and should be saved”, even if doing so meant bravely facing a terrible raging firestorm that threatened to engulf all life as we know it? For if you do hold such a belief, then the fine people over at Glass Bottom Games have the ultimate endless runner of your dreams in the form of their recently released Jones on Fire (out now, $1.99). If, however, you don’t believe that kitties are cute – or that they should be saved from any such disastrous threats – then you may feel free to stop reading this review right now, as this was never meant to be the game for you.
Emma Jones – simply referred to as Jones by all who know her – is the only firefighter that is a bad enough dude to save the kitties from the firestorm that threatens the world, and that’s despite the fact she’s not even a dude. She has mastered the all important mystical skills of jumping and sliding, and with these powerful abilities at her side – and you at the controls – she will brave the blaze time and time again until every last kitty is saved (after all, they are cute). All you have to remember is that tapping the left side of the screen makes Jones jump and that tapping the right side causes the stalwart firefighter to slide forward, both of which work flawlessly.
With these abilities Jones will avoid the trees that have collapsed in all sorts of various arrangements, as well as the many burning pockets laying about, all while collecting as many kitties as she can. That said, Jones on Fire is not merely a game of twitch based reactions since many of these obstructions – by themself – can be avoided by either jumping over them or via sliding beneath them. Evading an obstacle in the most optimum way will usually reward you with more kitties saved, or even keep you from being put in a position where you are unable to avoid whatever is up next.
While Jones is already an impressive force to be reckoned with as things currently stand, through the power of the kitties she saves – and especially the occasional rare golden kitty – this powerful firefighter can take her abilities to the next level. Before you know it, she will suddenly be sliding through thin air as if she were superman – taking multiple trees to the face and shaking it off as if were nothing at all – and even out running the abyss of the blaze should it ever catch up after an especially bad tumble. While Jones on Fire currently features IAP options for purchasing extra golden kitties – a trend not uncommon in the endless runner genre – the developer has stated that they have already submitted an update to the iTunes store that will completely remove all IAP purchasing options from the title, furthermore rebalancing the game in light of this change.
Accompanying this gripping fire dodging – kitty saving – action is a cubic 3D art style, which is nearly as cute as the kitties themself (obviously nothing can ever be quite as cute as kitties, for kitties are the paragon of cuteness). Complimenting this is an array of bouncy, and energizing, electronic tunes that change every so many stages that Jones manages to brave without the blaze over running her (but fear not, for the Meow Squad will deliver her safely back to the fire house should she ever fall in the face of duty). The package is then further rounded out by delightfully bizarre text that regularly makes statements such as “Getting burned is good for Jones, it will toughen her up and put hair on her lungs” when describing a side objective challenging the player to fail to dodge x many fire pockets.
All of these touches are a large part of what makes Jones on Fire an orgasmic joy to play, on par perhaps only with the most legendary endless runner of them all: Robot Unicorn Attack. Where so many other Endless Runners have failed to achieve ultimate perfection is in that they either lacked a wholly compelling concept of absurdity, or because they have perverted the notion of arcade bliss into a grind-a-thon so that they may wring IAPs out of those with less patience (a practice that often further encourages a developer to intentionally have less than perfect controls). With Jones on Fire’s wonky set up – charmingly simplistic graphics – and energetic music, Glass Bottom Games have defied all folklore wisdom by successfully getting all the cats back into the bag for this gaming delight (and with their already submitted update removing all traces of IAPs, Emma Jones’s noble exploits will need not ever fear the grinding monotony of corporate greed).
iFanzine Verdict: Jones on Fire has everything an ideal Endless Runner should have: a highly compelling concept that gets forever stuck in your head, amusing writing, charming graphics, fun music, tight controls that are easy to master, and (via their upcoming update) an emphasis on fun rather than Grind-Vs-IAP gameplay. So long as you aren’t some sort of handlebar moustache twirling villain that dunks kittens into ponds as part of your afternoon tea ceremony, I can’t think of a single reason why you wouldn’t want to join Emma Jones in her eternal mission to save every last one of the kitties. After all: “Kitties are Cute, and Should be Saved.”