Price: $0.99   Score: 7/10    Category: Games

Chillingo, the team who brought us Angry Birds, is back again. This time they’ve hit us with a prehistoric platformer called Hooga.

All in all, Hooga might remind you a bit of an early version of the 16 bit versions of Mario with bass heavy modern music and a boosted caveman aesthetic. You’re thrown into the life of a caveman and sent into the wild to traverse tundra, desert, grasslands and jungle across 16 lengthy levels.

I actually read the a couple of reviews of this game before I got my hands on it, and saw not only an overwhelming hatred of the music, but also read that I should expect to have a rough time with the controls.

While I’m respect my fellow reviewers, I’m going to have to disagree with them on at least one of the aforementioned points. Hooga’s contemporary soundtrack isn’t for everyone and it certainly doesn’t sound prehistoric by a longshot. Instead it felt modern and up to date. Some of the drum heavy music was a little distracting at times, but most of the levels had accompanying songs that felt like they could be the background of some radio hit.

Hooga’s controls weren’t all that problematic either. The game is set up so that jump, weapon throw, and bean (a sometimes savior enemy killer power up) are all on the lower right hand corner. The lower left side features a joystick based directional pad, and everything from there is fairly straightforward.

From a controls perspective, there wasn’t much to complain about in the early levels. The joystick felt responsive and while the weapon choices didn’t seem to do much varying damage, there wasn’t ever a time where I felt like I was pressing one thing and should have been seeing another action on the screen. My biggest annoyance though, was the climbing vines. When you jump on somewhere along the way an additional jump is registered and you end up on the ground again.

While this is something that should be fixed, overall the rest of Hooga was quite charming. Enemy forces like oversized centipedes and varying forms of dinosaurs roam back and forth predictably, but the retro movement that doesn’t respond to your existence is kind of fun, and it’s okay that the bosses aren’t all that difficult to conquer.

Instead the pleasure of Hooga is in the way that it will remind you of an early (and perhaps a bit more problematic) version of Sonic, Donkey Kong, or Mario. Collapsing bridges, water features (with some swimming), rocky terrain, and much more make for quite an experience, and all the levels have enough checkpoints to keep you moving for quite some time.

Along the way you collect flowers that operate like coin equivalents, and everything is integrated with Crystal. There isn’t a ton of replay appeal here but considering this game is only a dollar, if you’re not the most discriminating gamer it’s probably worth the buck. After all, the environments are well executed and Hooga is pretty cute. The game’s not perfect, but it’s fun nevertheless, and a great quick iPhone escape for short gaming bursts.

Bottom Line: Hooga is a Mario-like platformer in a prehistoric world. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but the title is still quite charming considering the dollar price tag.


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