I know what you must be thinking: a game with a name like Super Lemonade Factory (Out Now, $0.99 Release Sale) should have no right to be fun. However, Initials Command’s App Store debut is more proof that everything goes better with puzzle platforming! As discussed in last month’s preview and our interview with developer Shane Brouwer, Lemonade centers on the exploits of a husband-and-wife team who rely on each other to survive their first tour of a factory they’ve just inherited.
It’s a kooky game concept, but the two-hero premise absolutely works and makes Lemonade a cut above your average retro platformer. Even Sonic and Tails didn’t work this closely together back in my day, and it’s a darn shame the idea hasn’t been used more often; nothing keeps a platformer fresh like bouncing between characters who are very different. Moreover, it’s an ingenious way of maintaining a simple virtual interface without severely limiting the number of actions at the player’s disposal. The developer also dodged a bullet by making piggyback riding one of the character specialties, as this cuts down on having to clear the same traps twice.
That’s not to say there’s no room for growth. Each hero’s abilities can be counted on one hand: Andre is your go-to guy for giant crate busting and piggyback rides, while Liselot can bound over high walls and shove crates around to give Andre a leg up for his own jumps. Therefore it’s fair to say that Lemonade exhausts its bag of tricks pretty quickly. However, the game does squeeze a lot of mileage out of subtlety; mastering the ability to leap gingerly through tight spike-filled corridors is a must here. Aside from the dynamic character switching, the greatest thing Lemonade has going for it is a challenge mode unlocked by collecting hard-to-reach items in each of the game’s levels. I’m not normally one to get excited over this sort of thing, but Lemonade’s Hard mode drastically alters level structure and effectively doubles the game’s size. Now that’s something worth working for!
I have no complaints with Lemonade’s interface per se — all those virtual buttons have generous touch response areas, just the way I like ’em. Again, combining swipe controls with virtual buttons is something that needs to be used more often on iOS and Lemonade proves it can work. On the downside, the game doesn’t support screen re-orientation at release, so if you’re playing on an iPod Touch your earbud cord will make your grip on the device less than ergonomic. Here’s hoping this gets fixed in updates. It’s also worth noting that tons of new user-generated levels should be on the way via a design and submission process detailed on the game’s website. Groovy!
No other retro game I’ve played on iOS has benefited from its soundtrack as much as Lemonade. Easyname has really mastered the art of the late 80s chiptune with these memorable driving synths; once the high octane beats kick in, Andre and Liselot’s workplace tour becomes way more exciting than it has any right to be. Voice acted cutscenes are another bit of unexpected presentational polish lathered onto this one.
iFanzine Verdict: Super Lemonade Factory demonstrates the power of a gameplay concept that’s gone tragically untapped in platformers. For that reason it deserves a serious look whether you’re a retro fan or just generally interested in 2D or action puzzle games.