We have all played old school platform games from the days of the 16-bit consoles and we remember that it was all about jumping, collecting coins and power ups, killing enemies in the way, finding secret areas and reaching anxiously those checkpoints to avoid starting from zero.
Somersault [iTunes Link] by Enter-Brain-Ment brings all the classic elements of the genre with a little twist on the controls for multitouch devices. The game is introduced in the traditional manner, with invaders (wacky machines) enslaving the habitants of a happy world. We play the character, of course, of the hero that must put an end to the struggle and bring the different pieces of the its torn world together for everyone's joy.
Somersault is presented with 3D elements on a 2D universe that you navigate bouncing around.
Our little hero Flip will jump endlessly from the platforms we draw dragging our finger. This is the main novelty on the control scheme here. You can create a platform that will act as a spring for our character to bounce on, being able to chose its position and the power. It is quite easy to get used to and there is enough room for error, but make sure you check out the tutorial as well.
The game doesn't really use gravity and it feels a bit awkward to see Flip falling really slow and then being propelled really fast. Some arrows will be displayed for the player to guess where the character is falling, and you also get an indicator for the rebounds. In addition to this, you can also slow down the time when you drag and hold your finger while creating a platform, which makes it fairly easy, but not as natural as I would like. More screenshots and gameplay video after the break.
As the game progresses, the complexity of the scenarios increases, having to complete the different missions with its power-ups, coins, extra lives and enemies, finishing the levels with the typical final boss. The trick is that attacking is not as intuitive as bouncing, you need to tap on the enemy when it has a bullseye on it. While hitting the walls and floor doesn't affect your health, being touched by enemies and dangerous items placed along the scenarios do, so watch out for spikes and the likes.
Graphically, Somersault is well conceived and reminds me a bit of the palette used in the Crash Bandicoot Franchise. Some elements are quite old-school, while others, such as text and numbers could do better with some more work. I almost fainted the first time I saw a checkpoint sign which looked done with Microsoft Word.
Playing Somersault is fun, but once the novelty of the platform drawing wears off, it can become repetitive and slow paced. You can obviously try to finish every scenario quickly with massive jumps, but at risk of missing important goodies. What I found most frustrating was getting stuck in narrow areas or laying on the floor, since i would be quite tricky to get this chap back jumping.
Notice from the screenshots and video that Somersault looks like more juvenile game, and I bet that the younger at home will love it. For those who know the mechanics of platform games and love to explore every place in the scenarios, this games offers you the chance to do that, but I feel that it relies more on controlling your character than that.