Going for Gold
This June on the App Store has been a month full of pleasant surprises. While big-name games were kinda light on the ground, brilliant break out indie titles like VineKing, Redneck Jellyfish and ShootingDemon kept the folks here at iFanzine glued to our iDevices. And Pixeleap’s perfectly crafted debut game, Up To The Top (out now, $0.99), just might – excuse the pun – top ’em all.
A cutesy vertical platformer, Up To The Top sees you playing as a daring little dinosaur named Topper who has big dreams of snatching the coveted award for Best Jumper in the World from the reigning champions, a motley crew of mountain goats. A charming premise if ever there was one, I’m sure you’ll agree.
And that quirky plot isn’t the only area of game that Pixeleap have lavished a whole lot of love and attention on. Thanks to a delightfully unique hand-drawn art style, an utterly enchanting musical score and responsive controls, Up To The Top is easy title to jump right in to. The goal of each level is the same: help Topper find his way from A (the start point) to B (the finish line) as quickly as you can.
Set across three distinct worlds – a forest, a jungle and a fiendish frozen wasteland – these frantic races against time involve clambering upwards through levels by leaping from one platform to the next and dodging the likes of T-Rexes, wolves and eagles who, if hit, shave precious seconds from your time. It can be quite tricky to avoid contact with enemies, especially when keeping one eye on the clock, so thankfully there are also power-ups in the shape of stopwatches scattered around environments. Trying to nab golden coins and other hidden treasures provides a decent secondary challenge and means you’ll often have to tackle certain stages multiple times – especially if you’re a Game Center fan.
Up To The Top looks great and plays well while it’s actually much more challenging than one might imagine. Sadly, a disappointing lack of content and an all too brief running time left me vaguely dissatisfied overall. Leaderboards, achievements and some fun bonus challenge rounds are a step in the right direction, however the main game’s still quite short (it took me just over an hour to complete on my first playthrough). Pixeleap have revealed plans to keep supporting Up To The Top with new content such as bonus levels and more power-ups though so, rest assured, this one will only get bigger and better with time.
All in all, Pixeleap’s App Store debut gets a thumbs up from me.
iFanzine Verdict: This prehistoric platformer’s truly something special and Pixeleap are definitely an indie studio to watch. Expect to see Up To The Top start to scale the charts as more levels and other content is added to the game. Highly recommended!