Friday, October 12, 2012

Pocket Climber [PunchBox Studios] - $0.99/$0.99 [HD]

In our review for Polara, we said that the runner genre is expanding, and becoming more and more interesting. That kind of holds true for most genres, but it feels like the runner genre is at the top of it’s game right now. Now, that doesn’t mean that all of the newer endless releases are innovative and unique. There are still those titles that borrow from well known games and change a few things around, or build on them. Not that this is a bad thing. I, for one, didn’t really care for Temple Run, but some of the Temple Run clones that have been released sense, One Epic Knight for instance, have completely grabbed hold of me. That just so happens to be the case with PunchBox Studio’s latest title, Pocket Climber, as well. Mixing the behind-the-back camera and swiping controls found in Temple Run with the climbing found in GoGo Tap Climber and Jake Escapes was bound to happen eventually. I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long. 

Pocket Climber, like Temple Run type games, has you switching ‘lines’ and following paths of coins while avoiding hazards and getting as far as you can. The only real difference is that Pocket Climber has you doing this vertically instead of horizontally, climbing up an endless tower, avoiding window washers, giant apes, falling platforms, rug beating ladies and office workers that have decided to toss their computer screens and file cabinets out of their windows. Not to mention the sections of the building that are larger than others and large metal window covers that you’ll need to fling yourself over in order to keep climbing. 

Controls are simple, smooth and responsive. Swipe to move left and right, and swipe up to jump up one more floor than you would normally. And the speed of the game, while it does increase as you make your way further up the building, does give you ample time to react. You’re able to view about 6-7 floors above you, allowing for adequate time to make adjustments as to where you want your character to be while you make your way upward. There can be up to 4 different ‘lanes’ which you’ll be able to switch between, though there’s usually only two. Window washers, beams, and other objects move downward, while some rotate around the building, are thrown at you from a floor or two above. 

Like other Temple Run type games, Pocket Climber also contains a shop and IAP system. In the store, you’re able to purchase your typical power-ups, like a magnet, helmet, jumbo coins and a jetpack, with each upgrade either making the power up last for an extended period of time or increasing it’s value. There are also one time use Head Starts giving you the opportunity to start at floor 80 or 200 and one other climber to unlock, Mandy, though she does not have any additional stats or perks. Coins can be bought in packages ranging from $0.99 up to $59.99, all of which, unfortunately, makes Pocket Climber a perfect candidate for a switch to freemium, and judging by all of the recent endless games in the AppStore that have gone freemium after a short period, chances are it’ll happen here as well. 

If you do decide to take the plunge and purchase Pocket Climber, it is a very polished, and entertaining title, and even though it’s only slightly different from the Temple Run genre, it’s a blast to fling your character all over the side of a building, collecting coins and avoiding the various hazards that’ll be thrown your way. For $0.99, it’s worth picking up if you’re an Endless gaming fanatic and, hopefully, PunchBox will do something special for those of you who do decide to pick it up if it ever does go freemium, like toss some extra coins your way. There are two different builds in the AppStore, the iPhone/iPod version and the iPad version, making it $1.99 to have it on both your phone and tablet and separating the GameCenter leaderboards, which is kind of disappointing, and does feel a little like an extra attempt to grab some cash, and although it’s very understandable that PunchBox is just trying to recoup costs, I do think that more coins per IAP purchase would have helped out with that and made players more likely to purchase coins via IAP. With so many Universal games out there to compete with, Pocket Climber might have a hard time finding it’s way onto gamers iDevices. 


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