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AWESOME Land review (iOS/Universal)

February 2, 2012

“Something’s gone wrong again
And again and again and again again and…”

10 word description: 2D horizontal scrolling retro style platformer. 20 levels. Pixel art.

10 word review: Once again, a Mario homage doesn’t quite get it right.

You will like this if you enjoy: Retro scrolling platformers such as Super Mario. Come on, it doesn’t matter what anyone says, that’s the game this one most wants to be.

The good news: Pretty good retro graphics. Rock riff soundtrack at least doesn’t go for the bouncy chiptunes that everyone comes to expect. Level design, although never venturing anywhere near originality, is always tight and challenging. Controls feel right, although I’d argue (as usual) that the on-screen buttons are unnecessary. If you’re specifically interested in playing on iPad, I do like the positioning and the way they feel on that device.

What's the bet he calls his bike Princess, or maybe Peach?

The bad news: Once again, a Mario homage doesn’t quite live up to the promise. There’s too much missing from this game, and it’s a shame because what’s there is great. Here’s my list of notable omissions:

– No level select
– No score
– No par times
– Nothing to collect
– No secret rooms or alternative paths through levels

The above list removes a lot of the playability, not to mention the complete elimination of replayability. Overall, it’s not as bad as the glitchy, annoying cute mess of Paper Monsters, but it’s equally disappointing because the style, controls and level design are all very good.

The collision/death sound is weird, like a pane of glass breaking in a barrel.

‘New Game’ and ‘Continue’ options are close together and there’s no “Are you sure?”, with a new game completely replacing the current one.

Arcadelife verdict: Another sigh and raised eyebrows here, I’m afraid. There must be something that affects anyone developing a Mario homage that forces them to get half of it right and then botch the rest of it for no apparent reason, as if they feel they can’t possibly put out a game that feels complete. If this game included the omissions I listed in the bad news section, it wouldn’t be perfect, but it would feel finished. As it is, Awesome Land shows that it’s possible to code a convincing retro/Mario platformer with decent controls… but that’s all it does. I like the platforming on offer here, don’t misunderstand me, I’d just like to see more game wrapped around the tech. The content rating below isn’t a complaint about the number of levels, but about the lack of fairly obvious game elements.

Go and look at Pizza Boy – very short, but it nailed pretty much everything that this game should be trying to do but hasn’t even bothered with. Yes, I know it has huge on-screen controls. Like I said, nobody ever gets it completely right.

No flagpole? Of course not, we don't want to make it too obvious...

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 7.5/10
Controls – 8.5/10
Content – 4/10
Fun – 7/10
Final rating – 70/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

FreakZone Games website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 5.0.1)
iPad (OS 5.0.1)
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