By Eric Pankoke on Fri, 05/27/2011
Would you be surprised if I told you this was another physics game starring a cute protagonist? Throw in the quest for candy and you’re already starting to think “Cut The Rope”. Have no fear, faithful readers. This game is as far from Cut The Rope as far can get (if far can get very far, that is). For the most part this is about bringing the protagonist to the candy, and not the candy to the protagonist. Forgoing your parents’ childhood rule about sticking your tongue out at people you’ll have to use that incredible appendage to crawl, climb and swing towards your goal. The level design is quite ingenious at times, and the overall experience is quite original to the platform. Now if there were just some social integration to be found…
You play a little purple fuzzy creature that just happens to have a rather agile and extensible tongue. You also have an insatiable hunger for candy and will do almost anything to get it. The trouble is you have no arms and legs, so your only means of moving around is the aforementioned tongue. Thankfully your tongue can stick to a variety of surfaces, and what it can’t stick to it sometimes powerful enough to knock around. You’ll have to lick, stick and flick your way around 53 stages to get all the candy you can (okay, there’s really no flicking involved, but I was on a roll). Whether you ultimately bring the candy to you or you to the candy, you can’t finish a level without getting that delectable peppermint.
The thing that really sticks out about this game is the level design. Some levels will amaze you right away, others will be appreciated once you’ve finally struggled and succeeded in conquering them, and a few will cause you too much grief to bear (I think I skipped 3 all together). No matter how you feel about a particular level, however, you’d be hard pressed to sit back after you’ve finished the game and not realize that Catch The Candy has one of the most unique set of levels you’ve seen in a physics game of this sort. You’ll get to hop aboard runaway trucks, fight giant spiders and play basketball all in the same game. Even once you solve the puzzles, chances are good that you won’t solve all of them with a low number of moves, so you might just find yourself replaying certain levels to achieve a lower score.
Conceptually controlling the creature is easy – you just tap where you want to go. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work quite that way in reality. I’m not really sure how it bases where to draw the line between your tap and the fuzzy guy, but let’s just say that certain things like inclines are particularly hard to navigate with the way the tongue trajectory is calculated. Add to that the fact that so many things are based on how long you hold your finger down, some of the levels can become rather tricky, or for me quite impossible. I’m sure I’ll figure out the ones I’ve skipped eventually, but I’m in no hurry to go back to them.
I also think I’m getting spoiled by things like Game Center and OpenFeint, but I’m not real big on the scoring system. Basically your score is the number of moves it takes you to complete a level. Basically, then, the only reason to retry a level once you’ve completed it is to see if you can finish it in less moves or not. For quite a few levels, that’s really not a compelling enough reason for me. The game could really use some Game Center or OpenFeint achievements, as well as some sort of level ranking system. I know people are probably getting tired of the three tier awards for completing a level, but I’d rather work towards improving my score from a silver to gold medal than to just win the level in less moves.
The game looks great. Besides an adorable main character there are lots of detailed objects and backgrounds. Take a moment to study some of the images and appreciate them. In particular, I love the way the background utilizes a pastel based color palette with a washed out tone. Sometimes they feel like paintings. Finally, while not actually taking the time to confirm it, I believe the backgrounds change between day and night. A completely unnecessary but cool effect for this type of game. The sound effects are decent, but there really should be more of them. There are plenty of missed opportunities in things like vehicles and other creatures in the levels. The music is decent as well, but there’s only one song. There wouldn’t need to be tons of tracks, but one for each group of levels might be nice.
I’ve struggled a bit with this game, because one moment I’m frustrated with the control and the next I’m amazed at how cool the levels are. Often that happens in the same levels! The reality, however, is that whether or not you find some aspects of the game frustrating, there’s no denying that Catch The Candy is one of the most creative physics puzzle games to come along in a while. Sure it’s got a cute mascot, but the real strength of this game lies in its puzzle design. Even if you think you’re getting tired of silly heroes or this odd obsession with candy, if you’re a physics puzzle fan you really should give this game a try.
Overall Score: 8/10
App Store Link