With such a vast selection of platformers available on the App Store comes raised expectations. A game can longer expect to be a success if it is merely average. It needs to be unique and creative, with inviting gameplay. Unfortunately, Incredible Jack lacks both, making it just another cookie cutter platformer.
The story of Incredible Jack doesn’t go out of its way to be inventive. Jack and his family were living a happy life in the land of the Timbergrotes, but the underworld’s Dark Prince was unhappy with their selflessness and kidnaps Jack’s family to restore greed. It then becomes Jack’s mission to platform his way through seven worlds to rescue his wife, all 29 of his children, and his stolen coins. It’s not the worst story, but it’s not entirely original.
The gameplay, like the story, lacks any unique elements and leaves you with the feeling you’ve “been there, done that.” There are 29 platforming levels and eight boss-battles and as I played through the game it felt as if I was playing the first few levels on a continuous loop. In an attempt at diversity, there are swimming portions throughout, but once you swim a couple of times, it all becomes mundane. The same applies to barriers within levels– each barrier is taken-down by a conveniently placed giant boulder, taking away any semblance of challenge. Swimming and barriers fail to deliver enough variety, and instead feel unimportant and at times simplistic.
The eight boss-battles in the game pit you against what appears on the surface to be unique and diverse enemies. The bosses may look different, but they all act similarly, and the ways they are defeated are exactly the same. A couple quick jumps on their heads a set number of times and you’re done, left to wonder if there is going to be something trickier around the bend. There isn’t.
It’s the same story for the regular enemies. There are a variety littered throughout each world, but they are defeated in the exact same way, by simply jumping on their heads. It feels like an opportunity wasted by having a variety of enemies and bosses without introducing unique gameplay elements to conquer them.
It is pretty evident that Incredible Jack is not the greatest platformer to grace iOS, but it’s not totally without merit. The controls are very responsive, and make the mechanics of the platforming virtually frustration-free. Secondly, it features Game Center integration, with fully-featured achievements and leaderboards. Within Game Center you will find a “Clear Time” leaderboard which tracks the total time it takes to complete the game, an excellent feature especially for those who love to do speedruns. Lastly, it should noted that the game features iCloud Sync which worked flawlessly between my iPhone and iPad.
Incredible Jack is by no means a terrible game– it’s simply an average platformer. Its simplistic story, repetitive boss battles, and redundant level design leave a lot to be desired. As the App Store matures and becomes a true force in the gaming community, it’s time we expect more from the much-beloved platforming genre.