Hook, line, and sinker
It's fair to say that we liked last year's Mikey Shorts. It was a precision-perfect platformer that had something for everyone - speedrunners, collectors, casual players, et al. Now there's a sequel called Mikey Hooks, and while it doesn't does a whole lot new over the original game, you're not going to catch us complaining.
Over half a dozen or so worlds, Mikey runs, jumps, slides, and now also swings by a hook to collect coins, dodge baddies and generally attempt to get to the exit as fast as possible. This is a game primarily about moving as quickly as possible through each level, with star points awarded depending on how fast you zip through. There's also plenty of reasons to go back through each level to collect all the coins and find secrets.
What makes the Mikey series work so well are the controls. I'm personally a person who hates d-pad style controls on touch-screens, especially when they are applied to platforming games. And yet, with both Mikey Shorts and Mikey Hooks, here is proof that plastering physical control style buttons on the screen can actually work, as long as you have the precise movements to back it up.
The level design is spot on as well. As you dash through levels, it always feels like a hugely streamlined experience, with jumps landing exactly in the provided gap, and slides kicking in as your feet hit the floor, knocking the blue enemy out and ducking under a mound of dirt. It all makes you feel hugely slick and genuinely brilliant at video games - which you are, of course!
This classy level design, backed up by wonderful controls and plenty to do, is further boosted by great presentation. You're able to use the coins that you collect to customize Mikey with tons of crazy costumes, which is genuinely entertaining. Meanwhile, the pixelated visuals and bouncy soundtrack are well worth a look-in, and add to the overall package.
What really got me going was the leaderboard and ghost support. As you play levels multiple times, you can race against yourself and check at gates to see how fast or slow you're going in comparison. Race mode allows you to dash through levels against three CPU competitors, while GameCenter leaderboards kept me checking my progress against friends constantly.
Mikey Hooks' only real hiccup is that the controls aren't perfect. I know, I know, I said that they are some of the best platforming controls I've had the pleasure to play on a touch-screen - but they're still not spot-on. The sliding in particular feels irksome at times, especially on the later levels which require far more precision thanks to the plethora of spikes and traps scattered about the place.
But even so, Mikey Hooks is phenomenal stuff, and a very worthy successor to the original belter of a platforming game. Don't question whether it's worth grabbing a copy - just get it downloaded, and enjoy some real, smart video game design.
- Great controls. Wonderful level design. Lots of customization options. Plenty of reasons to keep playing, including online leaderboards.
- Sliding mechanic could be less irksome.