The iTunes Marketplace has certainly been no stranger to games that blatantly try to ape the appearance and form of some other far more popular title, and quite a few of those have been knockoffs of the original Super Mario Bros. Most of these titles – however – are quickly removed from the iTunes Marketplace due to their undeniably copyright infringing material, yet that has done little to deter would be plagiarists. With Super Bunny Land (out now, free), Hei Games has managed to find a way to invoke the image of Nintendo’s seminal classic, yet without crossing over the line into lawsuit country.
Super Bunny Land at first glance looks like what Super Mario Bros. might have been if endless runners, the eternal mainstay of mobile devices, had existed back when Miyamoto first developed his ultimate platforming classic. You take control of a bunny-man – wearing an obviously inspired red and blue get up – as he charges endlessly forward, collecting coins and stomping Goomba knockoffs along the way. However, there is a lot more involved in becoming an irrefutable all-time classic than merely reproducing the trappings that constitute a far more well known piece of artwork.
However – before I begin covering various matters of quality – let’s first start with the topic of how Super Bunny Land is controlled, which itself is a fairly straight forward issue. On the right-hand side of the screen is the player’s jump button, with the left-hand having both the stop button and – whenever applicable – the action button for whichever power-up the bunny currently has equipped. Hei Game’s Mario themed bunny man – as with pretty much every other endless runner hero ever – is never allowed to do things such as turn around, although the addition of the ability to stop is certainly a novelty.
I must point out at this juncture that something about the way their bunny man jumps through the air doesn’t seem quite right at all, and this disconnect with what your mind expects will frequently send you plunging face first into numerous pits and enemies. While one might argue that learning to deal with awkward jumping mechanics was a cornerstone hallmark of many a platforming title released during the NES era, this notion doesn’t intersect very well with the modern IAP practices found during our mobile age. If it wasn’t already blatantly obvious that Super Bunny Land – purely on the basis of it being offered for free – had IAP issues galore, then let me make it clear right here and now that it certainly does contains IAPs.
Each coin that the bunny collects can be utilized to obtain a plethora of power-ups, both of the permanent and temporary varieties, from a store run by a green haired bunny girl (and in this case I use the term bunny-girl in the Playboy sense, rather than an anthropomorphic one). However – especially with the rabbit meeting many bottomless pit based demises – one’s ability to obtain a meaningful number of coins in this manner is extremely limited, especially within a reasonable time frame. The two chief methods remaining are to obtain coins by completing Super Bunny Land’s assortment of missions based challenges, and to buy them straight forward via the title’s IAP options.
The catch is that Super Bunny Land doesn’t conveniently give you credit for finishing a mission, unlike virtually every other IAP driven endless runner ever released, and instead forces you to buy into the mission with your already collected coins. Then – and only then – will you be able to collect the mission’s reward should you successfully complete it, but only if you manage to do so before your bunny man runs out of lives and has to start a new game. If you fail to complete the challenge – which is probable, given the awkward jumping – then your coins spent opting into the mission will be forfeited, and you will have to repurchase the event in order to take another stab at it.
One having read the above might come to the conclusion that a player should just abstain from attempting any of Super Bunny Land’s missions until after they have completely mastered the title’s awkward jumping, but it’s really not that simple. The titular hero of Super Bunny Land needs carrots for powering up, yet – in comparison to his famous mustachioed inspirational source – he needs far more than one in order to grow larger. Worse yet, the amount of carrots he needs to power-up with are progressively increased for every three game over screens you manage to reach (which, given the awkward jumping, won’t take long to accomplish).
Therefore – unless the player begins putting money in almost immediately – Super Bunny Land will quickly become harder and harder to succeed at, such that they need an unholy amount of carrots to power up by the time they’ve finally mastered the jumping. Oh, by the way, did I mention that powering up won’t even give the bunny hero any abilities at all – such as fireballs – unless you furthermore first pay for the right to have these abilities unlocked? In conclusion, Super Bunny Land was carefully designed in order to steamroll players into an unwinnable state of oblivion if they don’t immediately start buying IAP options almost as soon as they begin playing.
Finally, the graphics comprising Super Bunny Land are extremely small – in fact, one might even say that they are painfully miniscule – such that you can’t even appreciate the retro pixel-art presentation. The end result of all this is that there isn’t much of anything to enjoy in Super Bunny Land, and the Super Mario themed veneer on the surface was merely put there to lure in would be victims. There’s simply far too many vastly superior endless runner games available on the iTunes Marketplace, even entirely free ones, for someone to need to waste their time with a title such as this.
iFanzine Verdict: Between the dodgy jumping mechanics – and the aggressively coercive IAPs – there simply isn’t much of anything in Super Bunny Land that is worth checking out, especially when the iTunes Marketplace is already overloaded with vastly superior offerings.