Freaking puzzle games on mobile platforms. Cut the Rope makes money with a cute cartoon character and some puzzles and now everybody thinks they can do it too. They're all over the app store and most are simply awful. So when I was offered Follow the Rabbit, a touch-based puzzle game where you have to get your character from point A to point B and collect three items along the way… well, let’s just say I lowered my hopes.
I haven’t been this happy to be wrong in years.
In Follow the Rabbit you will be doing just that. The story is simply that a white rabbit is late - for a very important date I presume - and making a mad dash to WhereEverTheHeckville. As he runs he keeps dropping enormous coins, which doesn’t escape the ever-vigilant eye of our hero, Kermix. Kermix is pretty much just a red cube with a face and is a callback by developer Gamaga to their very first game, a free flash puzzler of the same name.
Each of the 125 levels (that are currently available with version 1.1) has the simple goal of you getting Kermix safely through the door the rabbit just went through. Every level will grade your performance on how fast you finished the level, how many moves you made, and how many of the three coins you collected. Only the first 25 levels are unlocked in the beginning and you are free to tackle them in whatever order you choose. To unlock the next world (and the next 25 levels) you have to collect a certain amount of coins, giving them a purpose beyond a bigger score.
Gameplay starts off pretty basic. Your little red cube avatar can only be made to move in one direction at a time: left, right, or jump. This means that a staircase of blocks is impossible for you to climb as you can only jump straight up. Luckily he possesses that weird videogame hero ability of jumping up through solid floor just not down through it, allowing him to navigate the grid-like maze with just a few swipes of your digits. Your control of the character is very responsive. Failure felt like a result of my poor placement of the character, not the game's fault in misreading my motions, which is exactly how a touch-based game should be.
I'm huntin' wabbits.
Like any good puzzle game, what at first is a fairly simple concept becomes ever more complicated and throws more obstacles out in front of you. It starts with a few blocks you can push into a pit to allow you to cross. Then you start getting enemies that move around the level, forcing you to be much more aware of your surroundings and making you time your approach. Pretty soon you're using balloons to launch a block towards a bat so you can safely ride on a cloud shot by a cannon to the exit.
The most challenging variation of puzzles is the clone levels. For no explained reason, in these levels you will have two Kermixes… Kermixi?… cube guys (whatever) that you must use to collect the coins, avoid the hazards, and get through the two exits. When one moves the other moves in the same way (unless there is something blocking him). This will challenge your lateral thinking as the levels are usually designed so that moving forward with one will place the other in danger.
There is no danger here ... unless you are afraid of happiness.
It's hard not to draw some comparisons to Cut the Rope, but that is more of a compliment than a complaint. Each world will introduce a new gameplay gimmick. One world revolves heavily around tapping an on-screen button to alternate which bricks are tangible. Another world is full of enemies that are able to chase you by climbing up the sides of blocks. The final world gives you the ability to change the level’s gravity by physically rotating the device. The puzzles have that excellent balance of being challenging but not frustrating and making you feel oh-so-smart when you figure out how to complete a difficult one.
The game looks great, with colorful, well-animated characters and slick but simple menus. The music and sounds are appropriately cheerful, but like most puzzle games you can safely play with the sound muted if you need to. If you are (like me) an experienced puzzle gamer, expect to make it through each world in about 20 minutes a pop, including obtaining all the coins. I would, however, estimate it would take your average player about three hours to make it through the whole game. Beyond that it is up to you if you want to try to beat the levels with the least time and least moves. Like most puzzle games, there isn’t too much replay value to be had in solving the same puzzles over and over, but you can expect more levels to show up in a future update. Luckily the game is only a dollar on the app store and is a universal app for the iPhone and iPad.
There is no happiness here ... only slimes.
If you are sick of slinging birds and have sliced all the ropes you can stand, go ahead and follow the rabbit for a bit. You won’t be sorry.