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App Attack: Tobe and Friends Hookshot Escape is a secret homage to Sonic

3/16/12 7:00pm

Vertical platformers are very popular on mobile devices these days. Games like Doodle Jump and Ninja Trees of Doom have found a lot of success on the iOS platform, so it is no surprise to see other games following suit. Hookshot Escape not only attempts to expand on the core concept of what this type of game can be, but it approaches using a variety of mechanics. You execute these mechanics using on-screen buttons, which aren’t my favorite controls for the platform. In time though, you will become more comfortable with them.

The goal is very simple, climb as high as possible without dying, collecting loot and killing monsters along the way. The method of doing this though is unique to each of the four characters. Tobe for example uses a hookshot that will pull you up between platforms, but Nana has a hammer combined with a double jump. Nana can smash platforms to bits as she jumps. Other hidden characters like Blitz use a Dragon Punch or Aero who can basically fly. There are gems and power ups that will guide you along the best path to take,while avoiding crumbling platforms and spikes. Some enemies behave differently and like the platforms, become more difficult to encounter the higher you get.

The itch this game will scratch is similar to how Jetpack Joyride has kept me addicted so long. There are a number of challenges that unlock items, in addition to the power ups, and these items can be equipped on the individual characters (though there is a small score penalty). The challenges encourage you to approach the game differently each time, possibly focusing on attacking monsters one playthrough, or seeing how high you can get in 60 seconds on another. It encourages you to keep playing with variety. There are unique micro-transactions for extra character specific equipment, which in total it would only cost $2. With the game costing only $2 itself, this isn’t too expensive.

   

The most curious thing to retro fans though might be the obvious homage to Sonic the Hedgehog layered throughout the game. Power ups are contained in an item box which looks very familiar, as you bounce from giant red springs to climb higher and higher. Enemies can be destroyed by jumping on their heads, and the way you can bounce off them into an air roll also reminds me of the Sonic mechanic of yore. There is even an animation of gems exploding off your character whenever you take damage from spikes or enemies. I think you see where the inspiration came from. While these games are clearly different, I love how much they are the same.

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