Ye landlubbers should give Dingle Dangle a try, but don’t expect a perfect run until the controls are tweaked.

There’s no award issued to iOS games with titles that are “Most Likely to Make a Seven-Year-Old Grin,” but if there was, Chillingo’s Dingle Dangle would walk away with it in two seconds. This arcade/puzzle game is fully aware of its cheekiness, however, which sets the stage for a clever experience shot through with cuddly mascots and a wry sense of humor. Unfortunately, a couple of notable problems will keep Dingle Dangle from sticking to your heart forever.

Dingle Dangle stars a rope-dangling air pirate who’s fishing for Dingles. Dingles are fuzzy critters that sleep at the bottom of deep holes. Your function is to help the pirate drop the rope, hook Dingles, and drag them up into his ship. Don’t worry, the Dingles are pretty happy about leaving their dank homes behind.

Dingle Dangle immediately brings to mind those rip-off crane games that are parked in Wal-Mart lobbies. Fear not: Once you stick a Dingle, it’ll do everything in its power to cling to your hook. Dingles also stick to Dingles, kind of like thistles. Since your rope length is limited and the caves are deep, rescuing every single Dingle often requires you to make a chain out of the little guys.

As you progress, the rescue missions become considerably more hazardous and tricky. Caves are lined with spikes that pop Dingles like grapes. Fire traps burn your rope to cinders unless you manage to upgrade to a chain. And at some points you’ll need to change your Dingles’ colors, since they’ll only stick to other Dingles of the same color (why can’t we all just get along?).

Each completed level awards you up to three stars depending on how many Dingles you rescued, and how quickly. Sadly, Dingle Dangle‘s iffy controls will sabotage your attempts at a perfect run, particularly as far as time is concerned. The rope is lowered by sliding your thumb on a lever, and you control its movements by tilting your iOS device. Your thumb slips off the lever easily, and when that happens, the game goes into observation mode. Observation mode is necessary for scouting out a level’s hazards, and the counter stops when your thumb is off the lever—but it’s still frustrating to be drawn out of the action while you’re making delicate maneuvers.

Dingle Dangle

Moreover, the Dingles have no sense of weight when they swing back and forth on the rope. That would be fine, except you occasionally need to use a chain of Dingles to break through walls like a wrecking ball. Swinging at said walls is as easy as tilting your iOS device back and forth, but without that heft, it’s hard to determine when you have enough momentum going. Breaking down walls is trial-and-error, which is a big issue when you’re racing against the clock for that coveted star.

Dingle Dangle is thankfully generous about letting you access new worlds without coughing up a stupid amount of stars, and if a level is particularly frustrating, you can skip it. It’s an innovative title with cute, expressive mascots and it really tries its best to please its audience, but any game that requires you to perform for stars requires controls that go beyond “just okay.”