Skycat and the Starchildren has more going for it than just a wonderful, catchy title. It also has precision gameplay, excellent graphics, and a furry cartoon hero at its center. And while it’s not perfect, it’ll satisfy your itch to run, jump, and dash like the best of them.
Made in the tradition of the endless running games that have proved popular on the App Store (Canabalt, Robot Unicorn Attack), Skycat puts a simple twist on the formula: it ends. Like those other games, your character runs automatically to the right, but the levels aren’t randomly generated. Skycat has a single-player campaign, so you’ll complete levels and progress through a storyline rather than just shoot for a high score.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Skycat!
But because Skycat always runs to the right, you don’t have full control of him in the way that you do in most other platformers. Your input amounts to jumping and dashing, but you can dash up, down, or forward, depending on which way you swipe on the screen.
Each level is sprinkled with collectible stars that give you time bonuses. You’ll find plenty of regular little stars along the way, usually placed to guide you to the next platform you need to land on, as well as bigger stars with faces, called Starchildren, who give you bigger time bonuses.
The marathon of the weird.
Game Center handles the leaderboards, which add some much-needed replay value to the game. Because, though it seems silly to complain about the amount of content in Skycat when its closest kin is Canabalt, we can’t help but wish Skycat had more levels. Nine levels are included, spread across three worlds. Without dashing forward, each level can be beaten in about 45 seconds, so if you can master the gameplay, you’ll be able to beat Skycat faster than you can take a shower.
The only other complaint we have is about the screen size. Because Skycat can jump and up-dash so high, you’ll often lose sight of the platforms below you. In a game world riddled with pits, not knowing where you’re going to land quickly becomes a problem. Maybe the developers will release an HD version for the iPad that will solve this problem, like Adult Swim did with Robot Unicorn Attack HD.
Other than that, we’re quite taken with Skycat and the Starchildren. The graphics and animation are impressive, and the music fits the game’s tone just right, without becoming annoying. We just want a little more.