The World Thief Competition is gearing up to take place once more, and — despite his unsettling defeat the last time around — Lupin is back yet again to prove that he’s the greatest thief the world has ever seen. To this end he must pilfer precious prizes from all over the world, and even deal with Dracula at Castle Neuschwanstein, a Kraken in the Caribbean, the Great Sphinx in Egypt, and even a mutant gorilla known only as Bean. Thus goes the set up to Thief Lupin 2 (out now, free), the pilfering platform jumping adventure — determined to challenge the notion of just how complex a single tap game can truly be — from the team of talented developers over at BLUE WIND.

Ingame screenshot 1In each stage you are challenged to take your thief of choice through a series of perilously trapped floors, all while the thief society carefully monitors your progress and takes notes on how you performed. However — to keep things interesting — this tournament is no simple smash and grab affair, and instead contestants are only permitted to move forward using the specific judge approved guidelines. Whatever the current rule is — be it swimming, stopping, hiding, back flipping, long jumping, or anything else — the only thing players are ever allowed to do is this specific action via tapping the screen.

Through this method players will usually find their plucky thief auto running forward until they touch the screen, which — under most circumstances — will generally keep the hero standing still until after the screen is released (at which point the leap will occur). Sometimes far more interesting/bizarre guidelines will show up, such as when Lupin is ordered to perform the appropriately named Zigzag Jump (wherein holding the screen makes the selected thief begin running backwards, and releasing it makes them jump). Players must — using these awkward methods — avoid robot rats, swinging scythes, hanging saw blades, spikes, angry puffer fish, buttons that should never be pressed when they’re red, bombs that become invisible when you approach them, and so much more!

Of course, this wouldn’t really be the World THIEF Competition if the entire event was centered around determining whether or not you were in peak physical shape, and it is to this end that the judges are also checking to see if you can grab every last ruby present. After all, you’re going to need some top notch thieving gear — which the tournament doesn’t exactly provide free of charge — if you ever want to be the absolute best thief in the entire world. These rubies won’t be easy to grab — however — and will often require precise jumps into perilous situations, especially since your thief of choice will very rarely have the ability to run back for anything they might have missed along the way.

Ingame screenshot 2Now even if a single ruby might not seem like much — especially when a new cape could cost over 10,000 — you’ll still want to grab every last one all the same, especially when doing so is often one of the four special missions the judges have assigned for each stage. When all of these missions — such as: finish the level in under a certain number of taps, finish under a specific time, only get hit so many times, and various others — are all finally completed (which doesn’t even need to be on the same run), valuable prizes get awarded. These priceless treasures — such as the world renown Fabergé Egg — as the sort of prizes that every thief positively salivates over the thought of owning, and they even serve as supplemental bonuses to the armor and health stats that your purchased gear affords you.

Although you might think that there’d be no actual thievery in a yearly competition of this sort, and yet — true to their name — it seems the thief society has chosen to hold their heavily regulated tournaments upon the personal property of some not so willing hosts. For this reason — once you managed to stylishly pilfer enough of their property — you’ll find yourself face-to-face with a rather grumpy property owner, whom is now all too willing to bring your life to an abrupt halt. These fights take a variety of forms, including a memorable battle with the Great Sphinx where — in the midst of the clash — you must answer his math questions in order to avoid being overrun by his powerful onslaught.

In these regards, Thief Lupin 2 is a rather enjoyable — if often extremely frustrating — platforming adventure that is doled out in super bite-sized segments that fit nicely within the mobile gaming lifestyle. Even though it does feel at times as if they’re trying to force you to spend your rubies in order to get a perfect result on certain stages, I can personally vouch that the many challenges found within can always be done via pure skill alone. Therefore those looking for a tricky platforming experience — delivered at the price of entirely free — will certainly find a worthy game here, one that furthermore is even better built than some of the upfront priced platforming games on the iTunes Marketplace.

Ingame screenshot 3That is not to say — however — that the game features a perfectly clean bill of health, as there are some concerns with the game — both real and hypothetical — that I feel are very much needing to be addressed. The first is that — as a free app — you should be warned that Thief Lupin 2 is very big on the Grind Vs. IAP method of power advancement, wherein the rate that rubies can be earned — rather than bought — is always a very slow paced affair. Whether or not this bothers you will depend entirely on your willingness to IAP acquire all of your rubies on a constant basis, or on how iron-clad your stomach is in regards  to retreading the various levels that you’ve already played. Thankfully — at the very least — these ruby bought clothing items only ever permit you to take more hits than normal, and trying to avoid taking any damage at all is always a legitimate option in Thief Lupin 2.

What might prove far more potent at driving some of you batty — however — are the Golden Keys needed in order to buy access to Lupin’s various compatriots, especially since many of the game’s ruby-rich challenge levels can only be done by specific thieves. However — outside of buying these keys — the only other method of obtaining them involves grinding time in the most literal sense possibly, since the only way I’ve yet seen of obtaining them involves slowly repeating a specific consecutive daily login reward. Many might not exactly feel as if grinding was a viable option when they’d need over 14 weeks of consecutive logins just to obtain Tutankhamen — the second unlockable thief — for free, rather than simply purchasing a stack of Golden Keys via IAP based means.

My last concern involves two of Thief Lupin 2’s elements that I can’t yet rightly gauge at the moment, in part because the game is currently running a limited-time event where certain rules have been modified. The first of these is that — after a specific region is completed — you’ll need tickets in order to unlock the next area, and — although all travel is currently free for a limited time — I haven’t yet seen a way to get these some other way. My other concern lies with the game’s energy system, where — although energy currently recharges at a rate faster than you’ll usually expend it (unless you’re doing rather poorly) — I can’t promise that the expenditure and recharge rates won’t be changed in the future.

Still — assuming that you can over look the IAP Vs. Grind issues, as well as some things that might one day become a problem — I do reiterate that Thief Lupin 2 is a fun bite-sized platforming experience, complete with a hefty dose of challenge, that is easy to control.

iFanzine Verdict: Let it never be said that Thief Lupin 2 lacks variety, with players — all via simply tapping the screen — able to do things such as: normal jump, long jump, back flip, swim, hide, stop, reverse directions, and so much more. I can’t think of another app that has given players so many different character control methods all while having such solid controls too (admittedly you only have access to one at a time). Using these the player is asked to complete various difficult bite-sized platforming levels, none of which — thanks to the massive amount of variety present — ever end up feeling stale. The chief downside here is that — unless a player uses IAPs — a colossal amount of grinding will be needed in order to unlock most of the game’s content, which is at least offset by the fact that Thief Lupin 2 is offered entirely for free.