What’s up? Sheep’s up.
Sheep Up! is a game with a fairly simple premise: It’s up to you to guide a toy sheep from the bottom of the box of old toys it now occupies to the open top, and to freedom! Freedom from what, exactly, isn’t clear: Freedom from the attic/basement? Freedom from a yard sale or second-hand store, and a fate involving sticky child fingers?
But then, the game isn’t particularly narrative-heavy– in fact, all of the above information came straight from the iTunes description, and we weren’t even aware that our bouncing sheep was a toy, or that there were other toys in the box, until we had read it. Not that any of this gets in the way of the game, however.
What is immediately clear is that you are indeed in control of a sheep, and it is indeed in a box, bouncing along layers of cardboard platforms in an effort to reach the top of each of 20 boxes. Along the way, you’ll find there are different requirements necessary to reach the goal of each layer: Defeating enemies (other toys?), triggering musical panels in a certain order, landing on buttons, and finding keys are some of the obstacles you’ll find early on as you bounce around and avoid pitfalls.
All the while your sheep is bouncing, and you tilt your device in order to help it bounce where you need it to go. The thing is, your sheep is always bouncing, and it can be slightly distracting as there are times you might want to gain your bearings or try to time a jump across a gap, and having to accommodate your sheep’s perpetual motion adds a certain degree of difficulty to deal with – particularly when you’re dealing with traps such as platforms which give way when you land on them. In addition, the strictly top-down view can make it a little difficult to tell the position of your sheep, and whether or not it can make it to a platform.
As the game is centered around the tilt-controls of the iOS devices, there are a few options here to help make the game more easily playable per your preferences. Whereas some games refuse to allow you to so much as lean back with the device, Sheep Up!‘s developers were kind enough to allow you to set your default orientation. Despite this, we did find that in more intense stages, a more natural stance seemed more helpful, but your mileage may vary. It’s just good to see a developer realize that not everyone wants to sit up straight to play their games.
You can also adjust the tilt-sensitivity via a slider on the easily-accessible option menu. Even so, finding just the right spot can be a little bit tricky, and as the game gets progressively more difficult, you might even find yourself needing to adjust it further on the go– especially as you have to deal with your sheep’s constant bouncing, always bouncing…
All said, Sheep Up! is a fine little offering, though not quite up there with the App Store’s best. It requires a bit of patience and fine-tuning as you play, and some levels’ challenge can become a bit grating after a while, but it’s a unique and fun experience among the many iOS offerings.