Spy Bot Chronicles is a platformer with a superhero persona

Posted: August 6, 2009 in Platformer

Variety is never really a bad thing when it comes to games and one developer that seems to have that market cornered is IUGO. With titles such as Star Hogs, Freeballin’, Zombie Attack, and of course, the Toy Bot series, IUGO has a portfolio of successful games that we all enjoy. You can add Spy Bot Chronicles to that list because it’s easily one of the best platformers available. With large worlds containing depth that will keep you busy for days or even weeks, and controls that plain work wrapped up in a fun and entertaining visual presentation, Spy Bot will almost certainly rocket up the iTunes Top 100.

Building on the Toy Bot series, we find Toy Bot kidnapped by that kleptomaniac Thief Bot (hence the name right?). Our arch hero accented with sunglasses and blue trench coat Spy Bot has been sent to rescue him and along the way take back everything that Thief Bot has stolen. Venturing through 4 worlds with visible and hidden levels, Spy Bot will deal with a variety of obstacles and enemies in the search for poor little Toy Bot.

While the game is presented in 2D, you really wouldn’t notice because the worlds are presented in vibrant colors and detailed layouts similar to what you would see in Super Mario. The animation, while not overdone is just right, with characters showing humorous and sometimes exaggerated gestures. The music is typical IUGO with an edgy, yet lighthearted feel that really adds to the experience. Platformers live and die by their controls, and Spy Bot succeeds in large part because of controls that work. Left and right arrows controls side to side movement while jumping is done by tapping the screen. Rather intuitive don’t you think? And yet, too many other games struggle with control schemes.

IUGO boasts more than a dozen different enemy characters, and the fact is that these enemies are some of the strangest creations you’ll see ranging from things that look like angry toasters and bionic turtle shells to power tripping carburetors and teeth-bearing pylons. They have names such as Drone Bot, Guard Bot, Turtle Bot, Hopper Bot, Jetti Bot, and my favorite, Tosser Bot. He’s my favorite because he “tosses” bombs usually at Spy Bot.

Instead of achievements, this game is about collectibles—35 in all. These include a potpourri of things including a top hat, hack chip, pizza, spiffy boots, a book, sunglasses, and even iPhone. Of course, IUGO wouldn’t be maximizing its marketing dollars if it didn’t tie in its other games. So you also have the Freeballin’ Orb, Star Hogs Ship, Pirate Zombie (from Zombie Attack) and the grand prize, Toy Bot Trophy.

Spy Bot is a rather creative little bot who uses both brawn and brains, well, actually your brains. The worlds present obstacles both physical and mental that Spy Bot will need to overcome if he’s to defeat Thief Bot. Spy Bot has a laser weapon that he fires from the radio dish on his head, which you can activate and aim by tapping in the relevant direction. This laser is not simply for destroying enemies as you soon find out.

As with a typical platformer, Spy Bot must maneuver and jump around various platforms, from logs to swinging metal beams. But the game does a terrific job of creating an environment that Spy Bot can interact with and in many cases change. For example, Spy Bot has a hacking ability which you activate by tapping. In certain cases, this hacking ability will activate elevators and switches. In other cases, scenarios present themselves in which objects must be stacked or moved in order to activate an energy source. I mentioned the laser earlier, and in certain situations, you’ll need to think creatively in how to his laser weapon. In addition, there are mini-puzzles integrated within the game that need solving before Spy Bot can progress.

The gameplay is simply entertaining and enjoyable. Throughout the game, Spy Bot collects gears and reach checkpoints which automatically save the game at that location. It has a fair amount of challenges and obstacles, but you never feel like they are completely impossible. The animation is smooth although I had an occasional lag on my iPod Touch 2g 3.0. As I said, there are enough levels within the 4 worlds to last you quite a while. I think what will appeal to most will be the intuitive controls because you can have a great looking game with depth, but if the controls don’t work, it won’t matter. Fortunately, IUGO and Spy Bot get everything right.

Albie Meter: 5 Stars (one of the best platformers that both novice and experienced players will enjoy; intuitive controls and varied gameplay and wonderfully presented environments)

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