Nitrome has a firm reputation for knowing exactly how to get the most out of touch based gaming. Hop Swap is a reminder of just how good they are at this. You control a guy with a funky haircut as he hops and leaps his way along various platforms, attempting to solve some simple puzzles along the way. Keeping the visuals simple yet colorful, Hop Swap taps into your ‘just one more go’ urges reasonably well. It’s occasionally frustrating, but you’re guaranteed to keep coming back for more.
The key draw for Hop Swap is its world bending twist. Running is done automatically, while jumping is a matter of swiping up or down. Through jumping, you can also switch to the other side of a platform via a very similar mechanism. By doing so, the world changes quite drastically and you have to make sure to keep up with how directions change, with things reversed. It’s a pivotal part of solving how to progress every time you hit an obstacle along the way. It’s simple enough, yet opens things up quite significantly. That’s aided by the fact that you can perform a kind of super jump by initiating a jump before switching to the other side, propelling you that bit harder, which is a valuable strategy when trying to get ahead.
Early on, you’re provided with guidance of how to initiate each move, but a bit of experimentation will set you straight anyhow. It’s all reasonably intuitive and logical, meaning anyone can pick it up and figure it out.
While simple to learn, Hop Swap is also pretty tricky at times. Various enemies are scattered around. You can jump on their heads to destroy them, but doing so requires timing and being on the right side of them. Spikes are also an issue, and guess what? Your little guy only has one life. Get hit by something and you go straight back to the beginning or a checkpoint.
Checkpointing is reasonably generous but there’s a slight catch along the way. You have to use gems to buy a checkpoint. You can collect these easily enough, but each checkpoint gradually costs more and more. There’s a risk/reward system in play here and it’s pretty effective at making you consider if it’s worth holding out. You can opt to watch a video ad instead, but where’s the fun in that? Pushing your limits is far more intoxicating a concept, even if it will cause you to groan in annoyance at times.
Fortunately, while Hop Swap could have been frustratingly tough at all times, it actually eases you in reasonably well. Checkpoints are only ever a few screens apart, and it’s often fairly clear what’s expected of you. The only thing stopping you from progressing is your own skill level. Hop Swap is certainly simple enough to learn. It just requires you to react accordingly.
And that’s what keeps you coming back to Hop Swap – its simple yet beguiling platforming. Nitrome has always been great at offering logical in-app purchases and it’s a similar case here. You don’t have to spend real money if you don’t want to, and you’ll still get the full experience. That experience being a platformer that reminds you of how great touch screen gaming can be when implemented correctly.