Having grown up in the 8 and 16 bit console era, I remember when 2D platform games were all the rage. Nowadays it seems as though even simple platforming romps need to be embellished with the latest 3D graphics in order to be accepted by the masses. Thankfully handheld devices like smartphones have made the 2D platform game “in style” again, and games like Frenzy Pop are taking good advantage of that. The premise is simple, the levels are challenging, and there’s no third dimension to clutter up the fun.
I’ll admit the premise is a bit odd – you play a soda bottle trying to get to the pop machine at the end of each level. First of all, I’m not sure why you’d want to go back to being trapped in the machine. Second, I’m thinking the distributor has no advertising sense, because no one in their right mind would be thirsty enough to try and get soda from these machines. Logistics aside, the game is actually fairly well designed. The levels are interesting and provide a decent amount of challenge without being overwhelming. That is, of course, unless you want to go for the gold in each level, which requires you to beat a certain time. That can get a bit crazy on many of the levels.
For the most part your adversaries are things like spikes and spinning blades – environmental hazards. Once you get into the second level set you’ll also have to deal with guns that fire blasts of ice at you which can freeze you, resulting in an instant do-over of the level. There aren’t any real enemies per se, except for on the last level of each world. That’s okay, though, because your surroundings prove to be enough of a challenge without anything chasing you around. Often I would describe a situation like this as somewhat lacking in variety, but the level design is decent enough that every level feels fresh even if it is the same couple of objects over and over again.
Frenzy Pop uses a traditional control scheme, so there are buttons for moving left and right as well as jumping and rolling. It would be nice to see the roll mechanic used a bit more, as that could provide for some really interesting puzzles. There is one other button that lets you blow your top – literally. The PP button lets you release some pressure and use your carbonated insides for a temporary boost upwards. Keep in mind that this isn’t an instantaneously uplifting experience, however, so you have to time your moves accordingly. This ability can be reused, but it takes time to refill between bursts.
Visually the game’s not really on par with what you might come to expect from a publisher like Chillingo. That’s not to say that there isn’t a certain charm to the graphics, however. There are definitely some nice little touches as well, like your character freezing and sliding when hit by an ice blast or soda splatter left on a spinning blade after an unfortunately timed jump. While I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, the latter almost feels like a subtle taunt to those like myself who aren’t quite so good at the game. The sound effects are decent, but what really stands out is the music. It’s very energetic and does a great job of getting your blood pumping which is a good thing, since this game is rather fast paced.
I’m a big fan of platform games, and while I have nothing against 3D (when it’s done right), I’ll take a solid 2D platforming experience any day instead. Frenzy Pop delivers just that. Good level design, responsive controls and quick decision making form the perfect recipe for a fun experience. It may not be the best of the pack aesthetically, but Frenzy Pop just goes to prove that looks aren’t everything.
Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link
This game was reviewed on an iPod Touch 4G running iOS 5.0.1.