Suck It Up is one of those random games we downloaded simply because of its ridiculously cute icon and then ended up—sorry—getting sucked in. It’s the first release of newly founded studio Kiseki Games, a two-man team formed by Resa Liputra and Johan Kristianto. Both have plenty of experience in the mobile space prior to Kiseki, with Liputra having worked on notable names like Jetpack Joyride, Fruit Ninja, and Bears vs. Art at Halfbrick and Kristianto coming from ATP Creative with credits on Bridge Rider, Flick Color, and Dash Up 2. This experience is evident in Suck It Up, which combines thoughtful one-handed gameplay with a rewarding upgrade system in a world filled with adorable voxel critters.
Players take on the role of an alien whose only goal is to abduct as many living things as possible from Earth. His permanently floating “Unidentified Sucking Object” has a tractor beam constantly funneling out the bottom which picks up anything he hovers over for a short period of time. His main items of interest are animals, fruits, and vegetables, although the occasional human will also find its way on board.
To move the ship, you simply drag your finger where you want it to go, and it will follow your direction and speed precisely. Each level is made up of a series of islands that can be jumped between, although the ship cannot hover over empty space indefinitely. These aspects are definitely reminiscent of Land Sliders, although Suck It Up is slower-paced and requires more careful movement to reach high scores, with the ship only moving when you are actively dragging your finger and the tractor beam having a tight radius of impact. Each small map is dotted with fires and bombs: if you suck up fire, you’ll have a few seconds to locate a water source and hover over it to put out the fire. If you suck up a bomb, however, it will be game over almost immediately.
To earn points, you’ll need to track down and pull in plants and animals that are lolling around the map. Plants are stationary and will, at most, roll a few inches away from their tree or patch if you don’t suck them all up at once. Animals, however, will see you coming and run away if you get too close. You get bonus points for sucking up an entire group of animals and more points the faster you grab them—a “Perfect” would be getting all animals before they run away—so it’s in your best interest to line your ship up just right before speeding over a group. Many animals also position themselves right next to bombs or fire, requiring delicate maneuvering or even intentionally scaring them away so you can suck them up away from these hazards—strategically trading off more points for a safer abduction.
The portal to the next stage only opens up once you’ve nabbed enough creatures, and levels become increasingly larger and more dangerous as you progress. Sentient bombs and fires will chase you down; angry farmers and Men In Black-esque agents will throw these hazards at you directly. To make life easier and more interesting, you can upgrade all of the abductables with coins after sucking up enough of them and unlock new types with eggs or seeds that they’ve dropped. What begins as cow- and corn-populated farmland grows into a colorful world of ducks, dogs, zebras, and more alongside apples, grapes, bananas, etc. The more items you unlock the greater variety in your landscape and the more options you have for earning points. The upgrade portion allows you to reduce animals’ detection radius and run away speed, making it easier to nab large groups for more points, or improve their drop rate for coins, eggs, and seeds.
It’s an engaging upgrade loop that helps to improve your leaderboard standing but also provides a recurring goal outside of just getting better scores. Challenge missions and a variety of unlockable pilots offer other prizes to work toward.
But besides the fun gameplay and level-up system, we really just love the charming animals that you’re diligently chasing down. The cube versions of each critter lounge around the map before you get too close: they roll in the sun, kick their legs, waggle their ears. They often land bellyside up at spawn or after falling off a ledge, legs dangling above them like overturned turtles. Even their running motions are carefully animated, with ducks’ wings flapping wildly, pandas rearing up on their back legs, and giraffes nearly tipping over as they race forward with their distant heads dragging behind. It’s these little touches that really make Suck It Up special and an endearing high score chaser we keep gladly getting pulled into.