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BeaverTap Games gained notoriety for its speed-centric platformer, Mikey Shorts, as it was one of the rare side-scrolling iOS action games to nail a control scheme without compromise. Now the titular lead is back with a new mechanical twist in Mikey Hooks, and while his latest move doesn't feel quite as polished in use as his old ones, the game still shows impressive platform-action chops.
Mikey’s familiar suite of moves – running, jumping, and sliding – is back, controlled by a two-direction virtual pad. Virtual controls can be extremely hit-or-miss in many iOS games, but the Mikey series has managed to make the scheme feel natural and at home, thanks to a simplified and customizable interface. We never felt like the core controls were unresponsive or fidgety in the ways some other games have suffered.
But Mikey Hooks' big addition, the grappling hook mechanic, isn’t quite as smooth as the rest. The momentum seems just slightly off, as the directional buttons have more influence on your movement than the hook's pendulum-like swinging. As a result, it feels more like floating than truly swinging. Using the hook felt perfectly fine once we got used to its unique quirks, but it doesn't come quite as naturally as the rest, which took us by surprise.
The Story adventure, which takes place across six areas with four stages each, is fairly compact. These stages are clearly meant to be sped through, and are designed to challenge you to beat your own scores; but even then it seems a bit anemic, unless you’re intent on saving up to unlock the multitude of costume options. A secondary Race mode adds twelve more challenges, in which you take on ghosts of tough run times in stages themed after the existing zones. One add-on pack offers perks like double coins and extra life, though the tough-but-fair challenge felt enjoyable without indulging in those.
Some of the later stages are especially tough, which is where Mikey’s responsive platforming really shines. It's easy to escape into a mental state of pure reflexive bliss, learning the systems and stages well enough to react with pinpoint precision for that perfect run. Or, at least, perfect enough to hit the finish with a relieved sigh.
The bottom line. Mikey Hooks is a worthwhile successor to Mikey Shorts that's short, but a rush while it lasts.
iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later
Well-tuned platforming action. Virtual controls done this well is still a rare feat.
Short story campaign. Grappling hook usage doesn't feel quite as tight as other mechanics.