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Mikey Hooks Review
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Mikey Hooks, the follow-up to BeaverTap Games’ fantastic speedrun platformer Mikey Shorts, is now available from the app store. Retaining the same style and spot-on controls as the original, Mikey Hooks adds grappling hooks, more obstacles, and a damage mechanic that adds a great deal of challenge and makes the sequel a standout hit.

Mikey Hooks Pros:

  • Terrific art style with plenty of fun disguises to purchase
  • Soundtrack retains tune of original, while offering several more catchy tracks
  • Controls are spot-on and customizable to fit everyone’s needs
  • Hidden Golden Shorts and Coin Collecting goals add replay value
  • GameCenter integration for leaderboards and achievements to earn

Mikey Hooks Cons:

  • Only wish the grappling mechanic was present in the original, too

Mikey Hooks provides a 24-level Story mode spanning 6 unique environments, as well as a dozen Race levels (replacing the previous Challenge levels) that pit you against three ghost bots in a race to the finish line. Mikey will once again need to run, jump, and slide his way through each level, as well as use his grappling hook to swing his way across bottomless pits and over spike-lined sections of the map. There are specific blocks that Mikey can attach to, and it’s such an effortless method of navigating the landscape that I’m almost mad that it wasn’t included in the original. Another addition to the sequel is new bot types, differentiated from the original blue bot by their yellow and red colors. The blue bot now has spikes on top of his head, while the yellow bot has spikes on his sides and the red bot has spikes on both his head and sides. Touching the spikes will stall your progress and cost you one of Mikey’s three hearts, though Mikey will gain temporary invulnerability. The blue bots can still be eliminated by sliding through them, but the others must simply be avoided (you can safely jump on the yellow bot’s head for a slight boost). There are plenty more spikes to be found throughout the levels, even on the ceilings, which makes timing the swing mechanic even more crucial to getting through certain areas. You’ll also find silver throwing stars and electric currents vacillating along set paths that must be avoided. If you lose all of your hearts, you fail the level and must restart from the beginning. Fortunately, there are several to be found within the level to replenish your supply.

Each level allows you to earn up to three stars, with one awarded for simply finishing the level. You’ll need at least one to gain access to the next level. You earn two and three stars for beating indicated level times, with the two-star time being very generous. Hitting the three-star time will cause many players fits, as you’ll need near perfect runs to grab those elusive stars. Earning three stars in Race mode only requires you to beat all of the ghosts, which is probably just as difficult a task though we seemed to be able to handle this challenge a little better. There are still a ton of coins to collect while making your way toward the end point. Coins are used to purchase new hats/hairstyles, eyes, facial add-ons, and hook skins. There are dozens of each, reasonably priced so that you can acquire a pretty large collection of items quickly and mix-and-match to your heart’s desire. One notable omission this time around are the statues that you used to have to touch in order to pass through each light gate. The gates are still present, though you can pass through them without issue.

Graphically, Mikey Hooks retains the same great art style as the original and much of the same music, though there are a few new tracks that fit nicely with the game, too. The multiple environments give a fresh look to the level sets that is welcome since you’ll likely be playing the same levels dozens and dozens of times in an effort to shave tenths of seconds off of your best scores and it’s nice to be able to change things up a bit. Everything runs smoothly and feels very responsive. You have left/right buttons to control Mikey’s direction, with jump and slide buttons to control those actions. To use your hook, simply tap and hold the jump button again while airborne and near an anchor block. Release your finger to release the hook, taking Mikey’s speed and momentum into account to land where you want to land. We had our reservations when watching the trailer about how easy it would be to handle this mechanic in addition to the jumping and sliding, but we were thrilled to discover how well the devs implemented it and how easy it is to use. Controls are customizable, too, so you can adjust them as necessary, though we found the default positions were adequate.

Replay value is great, especially for players looking to challenge others on the leaderboards for best times. It seems you can always find a slightly better way to get through the level, whether it’s timing a slide or jump a bit better or taking a slightly different path. You can also challenge yourself to snag every coin in a level and even to find the hidden pair of golden shorts in each level. Replaying levels to earn more coins to purchase every available shop item could also compel some gamers to keep playing. Despite the appearance of a quick campaign, there is plenty of life to squeeze out of this one before you’ll be ready to hang up your hook. GameCenter integration provides leaderboards for each Story level, as well as an aggregate score leaderboard for the Race mode. There are also nearly three dozen achievements to earn and iCade and Joypad support to boot. A universal app (with iCloud) for $1.99, Mikey Hooks is a must-have 5-Dimple stud.

Mikey Hooks Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2013-08-08T01:17:35+00:00 rating 5.0 out of 5

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