Since "Bionic Commando," gamers have been fascinated with grappling hooks. But no developer has adopted the grappling hook more than Rocketcat Games, which has just released "Hook Worlds," their third hook-swinging iPhone game in the last two years. But is Rocketcat just treading in the same waters, or does "Worlds" manage to swing on its own?
"Hook Worlds" is similar to games like "Canabalt" in that it features never-ending gameplay with just one objective: Survive for as long as you can. But while "Canabalt" features just one futuristic setting and gameplay style, "Hook Worlds" comes with three unique levels, each with its own playable character and unique twists. A final, bonus level is available to early adopters (but will be added for all in a later update).
Variety Is The Spice Of Hooks
Where "Hook Worlds" differs from previous Rocketcat hook games is that each of the game's levels are entirely unique. There's the jungle level, where you play as an aging adventurer, stealing treasure from an angry god, using a grappling hook and rocket boots to escape. There's the pirate level, where you'll play as a bounty hunter, blasting pirate ghosts with a six-shooter and swinging across chasms. There's even a level set in the future which stars a gnome with the power of gravity boots.
Although all of the levels feature a grappling hook, the side abilities of each character make the play experiences very different. The pirate level, for example, requires more tactical play, as you have to time your ammo reloads between monsters. The jungle level, on the other hand, is really just about reflexes and concentration, as you swing from tree branch to tree branch, dodging the increasingly treacherous demon. Just as you find yourself getting bored with one level, you're likely to jump to the next one, looping around until you realize an hour or two has passed.
SNES Era Graphics
Like Rocketcat's last game, "Super Quick Hook," "Hook Worlds" uses a graphical engine which appears to be inspired by the SNES era of gaming. 2D spites are the order of the day, and the developer has packed in tons of tiny particle details, like puffs of dust and falling leaves, keeping each of the scenes lively and interesting. Even more important, the engine has been tweaked for noticeably smoother gameplay, a crucial addition for competitive swingers out there.
Thankfully Rocketcat hasn't forgotten the world's love of collectible hats, and "Hook Worlds" offers plenty of them to unlock. Spread across the games different levels, hats and hooks can be unlocked simply by playing a lot, or by achieving certain high scores, thus making each play-through more satisfying.
At release, "Hook Worlds" utilizes OpenFeint for its achievements and high scores. It's a fine system, don't get me wrong, but now that Apple's official gaming platform, Game Center, has launched, it's absence is a shame. Game Center support was originally planned for "Hook Worlds," so hopefully this will arrive in a future update.
When you compare "Hook Worlds" to other never-ending survival games like "Canabalt" and "Monster Dash," Rocketcat's wins in a landslide. The level variety, graphical charm and unlockable hats make this one a steal at 99 cents, especially if you've enjoyed the developers previous games.