‘Tobe & Friends Hookshot Escape’ App Review

Paying homage to the various gaming titles of the past era, Tobe must climb vertically through an endless submerged tunnel populated with pixelated rocks, stones, bricks and more. In this retro adventure that stays true to its title throughout, you’ll be posed with reaching as far up as you can before the approaching wrath of the pit’s darkness swallows you as a whole. Meet Tobe & Friends Hookshot Escape ($1.99).

Not only does this title derive from past classics with its unmistakable use of Mario-comparable spinning turtles and shiny stars used instead as a boost, but it also comes from its predecessor. A flash version dubbed Tobe’s Hookshot Escape is available to be played online with any flash media manager or browser. Now after months of work, the game has successfully been ported to the iPhone and iPod Touch with extra content and almost little to no room for improvement.

You’ll start by being able to play with the main character Tobe.

Though the story aspect of the game doesn’t have much development behind it, you’ve somehow ended up at the bottom of a long, long pit, and you’re attempting to escape. Once you begin to play, the controls will quickly be explained, and you’ll be able to give it your first shot.

Controlling the movement of Tobe (and his friends) is done using the virtual controls that have been integrated. Playing in portrait mode, the buttons layer the bottom of the screen. You’ll have right and left buttons for right and left movement, respectively, and you’ll also have a button on the right side of the screen which controls when you shoot your hook upwards and jump, which is the main twist to the common climbing idea. Pressing it once will make your character jump while pressing it twice and holding will shoot your hook.

To jump from one platform to another, each suspended in the air by some invisible force, you’ll have to master the use of your hookgun. With the dedicated button, you can shoot your hook upwards on demand. Depending on the height from you to the next platform above, the hook may or may not latch on and pull you up; this is where the learning curve of the game lies mainly. You’ll need to experiment to see how much distance you can properly conquer as well as determine how and when to time your jumps and successive hooks to reach platforms that you cannot otherwise reach.

There are plenty of hindering obstacles scattered throughout the randomly generated worlds of the game. Enemies for one are constantly walking back and forth on certain platforms, certain blocks will cave away and there’s more. If you fall beneath the screen as it scrolls up, it’s game over.

Though there is quite a steep learning curve that will take a few rounds for your to get accustomed to, the content portion of the game is extremely well packed and gives the player a lot to look forward to. There are multiple backgrounds and themes that can be applied to the in-game world, three other characters that can be played as and a whole plethora of other inventory items that can aid in your climb. All of these need to be unlocked by completing various challenges, which gives the player incentive to keep on playing. Each character has their own climbing technique straying away from the hook, which also introduces a new way to play each time one of the three is unlocked.

Everything has been made pixel by pixel to maintain a retro theme throughout the game’s main game mode, equipment and sprites. The accompanying soundtracks are as delightful as the artwork.

Any old school retro junkie looking for a thrilling adventure to whet their gaming fancies to be played for a few minutes at a time will find a ton of fun in Tobe & Friends Hookshot Escape ($1.99). It takes the climbing genre to a whole new level with the inclusion of many unlockable items that easily make up for the learning period each player will undergo when they first begin to play.

[easyreview title="Our Score" cat1title="Graphics" cat1detail="If you're piqued by games with pixel artwork, you won't be disappointed. However, it seems a bit too zoomed out at some times." cat1rating="4" cat2title="Sound" cat2detail="The chiptunes running in the background match the mood of the game. There's always a new soundtrack running to keep things fresh." cat2rating="5" cat3title="Gameplay" cat3detail="There was so much to do while playing the game. It's like a maze for the player with the amount of unlockables that have been incorporated, and as you climb higher, new things will constantly and consistently be thrown at you." cat3rating="5" cat4title="Controls" cat4detail="The controls are extremely responsive and not obtrusive at all, however, it does take time to get used to the jump + hook mechanics. I didn't find it a problem, but a landscape mode could be a potential addition based on how other people feel." cat4rating="4.5" cat5title="Content" cat5detail="Multiple characters, over 20 items to be discovered, different enemies, and more - there's nothing more to say other than the developer's have included a fulfilling amount of content." cat5rating="5" summary="Any old school retro junkie looking for a thrilling adventure to whet their gaming fancies to be played for a few minutes at a time will find a ton of fun in Tobe & Friends Hookshot Escape ($1.99)."]

[easyreview title="Screenshots"]