If you’re anything like us, then you’ve probably grown up on Super Mario Bros. Jumping around all over the place, collecting coins, capturing flags and hopping on mushrooms within a certain amount of time were a fundamental part of most of our childhoods growing up.
There have been a few really great attempts to recreate this for iOS. Games like Mos Speedrun and Soosiz showed us that yes, in fact, these type of platformers could work, and work well for the touchscreen. Now comes Mikey Shorts. Born out of a relationship forged between two guys in the Touch Arcade forums, Mikey is a game that wears its heart on its sleeve and further proves that this genre works on the iPhone.
Mikey Shorts, at its core, is a speedrun game. You run along collecting coins, tapping statues and breaking down force fields within a certain amount of time. Your people have all been turned into statues and you have to rescue them all and try and find out just what the heck is happening without taking too long.
Lost in a blueprint.
There are barriers along the way, and the only way to break them down is by rescuing a certain number of unfortunate people/ statues before you can progress. There are no mushrooms in this game– instead, there are confused-looking robots that you can either destroy by sliding into, or bounce off the top of to get a higher jump.
There are all kinds of branching paths for you to take and hidden secrets for you to find, and it’s up to you to find the fastest route. Every level, for example, has a pair of Golden Shorts hidden in some place off the beaten path. The coins you collect, while not necessary to success, allow you to buy costumes to change Mikey’s look. Whether you’re a hoarder or a speed-runner, even after you’ve beaten the game, you’ve got a lot of reasons to go back and play again
There are 72 different levels, divided into two parts, and they all look like they were ripped straight out of a game ad in Nintendo Power. They’re bright, colorful and vivid pixel drawings that will warm the heart of any gamer.
It’s gonna be a scorcher out there today, folks.
The first 24 levels comprise the ‘story’, where you have to rescue your people and get to the center of the mystery of why they’ve been transformed into giant gargoyles. The next 48 levels are the ‘challenge’ levels. The challenge levels are all about pure speed. Instead of the clock counting up, like in the story mode, this clock counts down. If you don’t beat the clock, then you die.
The game works off of a three-star system, all based on time. Getting two stars means you’re good. We’re convinced that getting three stars means you have some kind of psychic connection to the game.
Something we really liked is that if you retry a level, the game will tell you at certain points how you’re doing compared to your last run, encouraging you to do better. The margin for error in this game is a razor’s edge, but when you get those three stars, it’s an awesome feeling.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the controls, which are the best we’ve handled since League of Evil. You have the typical controls for moving, and buttons for jumping and sliding. They’re tight, responsive, and practically flawless. If you have giant monster hands, or are playing on an iPad, you can also change the control layout to make them work for you.
Mikey Shorts is pure retro goodness, all wrapped up in a modern package. While its influences may be visible from space, it doesn’t change the fact that this game is pure fun to play. Even after playing through the game in a matter of hours, we were desperate to go back to see if we could change those hours into minutes, and get all the coins, too.