Swiping, jumping and getting to your goal. Sound familiar? By now it should. G5 Entertainment’s Jumpster (Out now, Free) is a physics-based puzzler that pits you against an enemy eviler than Ganon, Bowser and Mother Brain combined: poorly implemented in-app purchases!
You play as an adorable little black sphere with giant eyes who has crashed landed on an alien planet. While on this planet, your goal is to find precious fuel for your crashed ship in order to fly away. Being encased inside a bubble or any type of water is something of a safe haven while he looks to find a way into his tiny ship.
In order to do this, you pull back on your screen with a finger and set the alien flying, collecting splotches of fuel along the way. There are three fuel blobs to collect that act like the three star system that most iOS games of this ilk seem to have adopted. The controls work very well — I had no issues with the slingshot mechanic — and you have a very meter at the top of the screen which lets you know how many jumps you can attempt. More on this anon.
Where I did I have a problem, however, was with how random the difficulty of the levels is. The first five levels are pretty straightforward, serving as a nice introduction to the gameplay mechanics. But at the sixth level things get completely bananas! There’s an insane swinging mace that you have to avoid as the difficulty curve ramps up unexpectedly and unevenly. It would’ve been nice to be eased into the more dangerous and “spikey” levels better. But in case you’re fed up of trying to find your way through some of the frustrating levels, you can always skip a stage by spending real money on some in-app purchases. Oh, and there’s no way that you’ll forget how to do this because Jumpster takes every chance to remind you that you can buy IAPs to the point where it’s obnoxious and annoying.
And here’s where that meter from earlier comes in. You see, once that bar is depleted you’re done jumping for a couple of hours or you have to dish out and buy more time with your real life cash. This aspect is an absolute game breaker. I would much rather pay a set price for a game than constantly be forced to pay to play. This isn’t like paying for costumes (which you can do) and upgrades or extras like that — this is paying to keep playing the game. In other words, the worst kind of freemium model out there.
Visually, Jumpster is lush, colorful and just downright gorgeous. What the main character lacks in the looks department is more than made up forby the game’s environments. The foliage and backgrounds look sharp and pretty but the spikes and dangerous elements look absolutely nasty. The level design is creative, innovative and well done overall and it’ll take you a fair amount of trial and error (and maybe money too) in order to solve some of these beautifully dangerous levels.
iFanzine Verdict: Jumpster is a game that we’ve seen before, yet the developers must think they have something truly special and unique to have the nerve to say this game is free but charge you to keep playing. Problem is, what they have isn’t special at all. The App Store is filled with physics based puzzlers that are actually free or are a straight price point without prodding you for money. During those hours you’re spending waiting to play the next level, you’ll move on to something better and (hopefully) less greedy than this.