For pocket platforming, Mr. Nibbles makes a choice companion.
Little Acorns is a game with a simple premise we're sure many of you are familiar with: Squirrels gathering as much food as they can before winter comes. Unfortunately for Mr. Nibbles and his family, it seems that many of their forest-dwelling neighbors are jerks, opting to raid the Nibbles' tree and steal all of the food they had packed away for the cold weather.
Taking on the role of the family patriarch, your job is to run, jump, and swing through each level, gathering all of the acorns and making your way to the exit door before time runs out (squirrels have a schedule to keep, after all). The game adds new elements incrementally over the first few stages, as your first objective is to simply gather all of the nuts in the stage. Following that, the next level has you gather pieces of fruit before exiting in order to unlock a bonus customization item. And the one after that has Mr. Nibbles playing "Daddy Day Care," in that he must not only round up all the nuts and ideally gather all the fruit, but round up all of the rambunctious young squirrel kids running around, too.
The game's controls are pure simplicity: you have digital buttons to move left and right, plus a third for jumping. That's it, though as you progress, you'll find certain points from which you can attach a line and swing across gaps, using the left and right buttons to build momentum. It takes a little getting used to at first, but before you know it Mr. Nibbles is swinging through the forest like a real Bio-nut Commando. There are also power-ups along the way to enhance your squirrel's natural abilities, such as invincibility, faster speed, and higher jumping.
Speaking of enhancements, there are a wide variety of customization options available as you gather all of the bonus fruit in levels. You'll be able to deck Mr. Nibbles out in bowler hats, tuxedos, ties, clown noses, mustaches, and even change the color of his swinging rope, thus resulting in a squirrel you can truly call your own.
Little Acorns features quite a bit of content as well, with 60 stages spread out over three years, with four seasons apiece. Things get more difficult as the game progresses, though your greatest enemy is always Father Time. There are enemies, who are easily disposed of with a quick stomping; however, they can sometimes be tricky to hit, and you may find yourself taking the hit more often. But rather than deplete a life meter or send Mr. Nibbles to the nearest taxidermist, enemies will instead infuse him with poison, slowing him down. Thankfully, some of the stages with shorter time limits feature items which add a little time to the clock.
The controls, while simple and generally decent in normal circumstances, tend to falter a bit as new elements come into play. They are sufficient in earlier levels, but as obstacles such as ice, slim platforms only reachable with a high-jump power-up, and platforms which drop upon being touched (they regenerate, but only after several precious seconds have passed), the general looseness becomes more apparent as you begin cursing over missing jumps which would have been child's play in a Mario, Sonic, or Mega Man game.
Despite the feeling of imperfection, these challenges are still surmountable, and don't detract terribly from a game which is otherwise an all-around fun experience. As such, Little Acorns is a game which provides plenty to do, and comes with a strong recommendation.
- Fun character designs. Simple controls. Challenging levels. Character customization.
- Controls sometimes feel more antagonistic than the enemies, particularly where precision platforming is needed.