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If good artists borrow and great artists steal, how do we classify the artists who break and enter but leave the real treasure behind? It’s not difficult to spot the commonalities between The Other Brothers and Nintendo’s classic Super Mario entries. Both are side-scrolling platform games, feature a damsel in distress, and are rendered in wonderful pixel art. Both even star a pair of silly mustachioed men who wear caps and overalls. But The Other Brothers sadly does not capture its spiritual predecessor’s signature feel.
Simply put, The Other Brothers is a chore to play. The game’s biggest issue stems from a digital directional pad that spastically readjusts itself every time the player touches the screen. Most times it just wiggles uncontrollably; other times it floats away as you drag along one of its directions. Forcing players to use it to navigate sharp jumps and stomp onto the heads of swift enemies feels sadistic and unfair, and it taints the entire game experience.
Meanwhile, the level design facilitates accidental exploration. Most stages feature branching paths and vertical sections rife with their own rewards, but because the true path isn’t indicated, it’s entirely possible to think you’re going the correct way only to realize the exit is back where you were moments before. Because you’re racing against a countdown clock, and since you’re fighting the controls every step of the way, it’s best to try to beeline to the end.
Most enemies are quick to charge you, which feels too challenging when something as simple as jumping with accuracy is a daunting task. However, the most overwhelming foe we faced was a ladder. We fell off five times while fighting with the “up” icon, narrowly making it to the top on attempt number six. When navigating a stationary object becomes the most notable conflict in a game, clearly something is amiss. There’s nothing wrong with paying close homage to one of the most important games ever made, but The Other Brothers fails to understand that it wasn’t just the premise that propelled Mario to greatness.
The bottom line. The Other Brothers' control issues are bad enough to sink this platformer.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later.
Fun sprite art style. Classic chip tune soundtrack.
Abysmal d-pad makes the game nearly unplayable. Level design is unclear, which is frustrating when racing a timer.