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Gear Jack Review
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Gear Jack, a hardcore platformer developed by Piwot Games and published by Forest Moon Games, is now available from the app store. Featuring a futuristic industrial aesthetic, cool musical tracks, and an unforgiving requirement of precision movements, Gear Jack is a captivating exercise in trial-and-error gaming.

Gear Jack Pros:

  • Great futuristic industrial presentation and exciting hardcore platforming fun
  • Soundtrack shuffles through several catchy tracks
  • Controls are responsive and easy to hit
  • Upgradeable character attributes for customization
  • GameCenter integration provides an achievement system

Gear Jack Cons:

  • Background and foreground can get confused for each other
  • Restarting soundtracks can get annoying
  • Level-beginning animations and new obstacle introduction slowdowns are frustrating

Jack is some type of robotic entity, traveling aboard a spaceship that gets knocked off-course when it passes in close proximity to a black hole. To save the ship and himself, he’ll need to traverse the game’s 30 levels, jumping and sliding to avoid traps and obstacles without losing his life. Jack collects a variety of objects along the way, earning point totals that help him earn up to 3 stars for his effort in each level. There are spinning gears to avoid, tunnels to roll through, gaps to leap over, transports to move Jack between different locations within the same level, and more. Every so often, you’ll earn points to upgrade Jack’s speed, jumping ability, rolling prowess, and more. The manner in which you disperse your earned points can have a significant effect on how well Jack is able to get through certain types of obstacles, so choose wisely. Once you make it through the campaign, the game touts random trap generation at adds a good deal of replay value even if you’ve memorized the pre-rendered levels. You should be prepared to die early and often until you learn the ins and outs of each level and memorize when to jump and roll to find the level end. Restarts don’t take too long, but the short animation that you have to sit through each time is a bit grating, as are the slow-motion pieces when a new obstacle is introduced.

Graphically, Gear Jack has a great futuristic, industrial look that justifies Jack’s existence and subsequent plight, as well as his human-like abilities. The background is active, sometimes confusing the gamer as to which items are in the foreground (and usable by Jack) and which are in the background (and can safely be ignored). New items are added a little at a time, like pressure plates that activate crushing columns or spikes that jut out of the ceiling as you roll by. Your pathway occasionally contains smaller icons representing the jump and roll buttons, requiring you to tap the corresponding buttons as Jack passes in front of them. This also triggers a slow motion cinematic spinning jump that’s pretty cool to watch. Various other traps require you to tap on the screen to eviscerate falling gears, open doors, and raise walls to allow safe passage.

The soundtrack consists of several cool tracks that play upbeat music to match the game’s style, but they annoyingly reset each time you die. This results in constant switching of music and the annoyance of hearing the opening notes of the same songs over and over again. We’d rather just have the songs playing through to the end regardless of whether we die or not. The controls provide a roll button on the left and a jump button on the right. They are very responsive and easy to hit. There is also a slow motion button above the jump button that allows you temporarily to slow time during a particularly troubling portion of a level. We didn’t have much use for it and found it difficult to turn our attention from the game to find the small button’s location for fear of dying while searching and having to start over from the level beginning.

Replay value is good, as you can go back through completed levels to earn missed stars or increase your score. You can also enjoy the random trap generation that keeps things fresh after completing the campaign. GameCenter integration provides more than 2 dozen achievements to earn. A universal app for $0.99, Gear Jack is an exciting 4-Dimple offering.

Gear Jack Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2012-11-15T01:30:00+00:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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