Updated: Archibald’s Adventures Review

We’ve learned from Rake in Grass that Archibald’s Adventures got a rather large update yesterday. The 1.1 update includes:

  • 49 new levels (bringing the total to 163)
  • iPod soundtrack
  • option to enable/disable auto-hiding of on-screen control arrows, which some players found confusing
  • tuning for the jet armchair’s handling

That’s a whole mess of new content, making this excellent puzzle-platforming game an even worthier addition to your collection.

Archibald’s Adventures is shining example of how to adapt a game for the iDevice’s touch interface. By simplifying the traditional platformer controls and incorporating a robust puzzle system, developer Rake in Grass has managed to create a game that challenges both your physical and mental dexterity. Oh, and it’s a blast to play, too!

You play as Archibald, a neighborhood kid who skateboards himself into the hazard-filled mansion of a crazy professor named Klumpfus. You get to spend the next 114 levels getting yourself out. The game has clean, hand-drawn graphics and a chill, jazzy score that compliments its lighthearted atmosphere. Don’t let its childish appearance fool you though… there are plenty of diabolical puzzles in store.

The game gradually introduces a handful of distinct gameplay mechanics over the course of its seven chapters. You start with just your trusty skateboard, but soon gain access to a special bubble which can float around the level to pick up boxes, flip switches and reach areas that your character alone cannot. You will also take the reigns of a laboratory vehicle that adheres to metal surfaces and can roll up walls or across the ceiling. Lastly are the levels where you play as the Professor himself, who flies around in a jetpack chair.

Each of these play styles opens up entirely new level designs and puzzles, but at the same time, they are easy to pick up and feel like parts of an integrated whole. The controls for each are very precise and cleverly designed to stay within the iPhone’s capabilities. For instance, the skateboard will automatically jump gaps if it gets three spaces of running room, eliminating the need for a separate jump button.

Most of the levels in Archibald’s Adventures require you to alter the environment in some way to get from Point A to Point B, usually by moving boxes, dropping bombs and toggling switches. There are sequences that require some precise timing or movement, but they never stretch the control scheme past what it can handle, and they rarely last for long. Meanwhile, the puzzles themselves constantly require you to think in a non-linear manner and come up with new tricks. Most of the levels are pretty short, but the longer ones are filled with checkpoints–a brilliant addition to a game that often requires some trial and error.

Also, you are not required to play through all the levels in order, so if you ever get stuck somewhere you can move on and come back to the troublesome bit later. If you really get stuck in a bind, the developers have even provided YouTube videos with solutions to some of the levels for you. Along with the game’s excellent tutorial, this serves to get the frustration out of the way so you can truly enjoy yourself.

Archibald’s Adventures seamlessly entwines conventional platforming and puzzle solving into a coherent, polished whole, and that’s not an easy thing to do. The game really has a ton of content, so it’s a good value even though there’s not much incentive to play through again once you’re done. Overall, we were really surprised at how much fun we had with Archibald’s Adventures, and we think it merits our highest recommendation.

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