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Platformers often come with an expectation of nostalgic bliss -- that starting the game will bring back feelings of blowing into a large plastic cartridge. Mikey Shorts nails its 8-bit-inspired aesthetic. It looks like an HD-infused Super Mario Bros. and sounds so Eighties that it should have the faint noise of a Metallica album behind the chiptune score, as if it's creeping in from behind the closed door of an older sibling's bedroom. The simplicity trickles down to the controls, which consist of a two-way directional pad and jump and slide buttons.
What differentiates Mikey Shorts from most platformers -- and consequently lowers its value as a true old-school experience -- is the lack of hazard. Mikey Shorts doesn't die. The worst outcome for the game's namesake is an immediate respawn, which might initially put off speed runners and perfectionists from this unique genre twist . In a way, though, the design of Mikey Shorts makes it the purest form of platformer. There's nothing to get in your way aside from poorly timed jumps and regrettable routes. Every jump and slide feels fluid and definite; you can tell when you've put the perfect finesse on a jump from the second you tap the button.
The game can be played for speed or hoarding, requiring you to either blaze through a level with minimal contact or to slow the pace and examine the landscape for coins and "golden shorts" tokens. Success at either approach is rewarded with hundreds of goofy disguises that spice up Mikey's wardrobe, with the costumes acting as achievements that reward anyone playing to shave seconds or collect coins like a kleptomaniac.
The bottom line. Those seeking a pixel-perfect recreation of tough-as-nails platformers should look elsewhere, but Mikey Shorts is bliss for time-chasers and completionists.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 4.2 or later
Looks and feels like an 8-bit throwback. Controls feel perfect. Sure to become a time trial and item collecting obsession.
Little challenge when compared to games it visually emulates. No enemies or deaths.