The iPhone’s Mario has arrived, and its name is Soosiz. While the title may be unpronounceable, Soosiz is the best 2D platformer on the system, and a game anyone and everyone will enjoy. It draws perhaps a little too heavily from the games featuring everyone’s favorite Italian plumber, but it’s filled with enough unique surprises and imagination for us to overlook this issue. In nearly every way, this is a remarkable game.
Right off the bat, you’re put in the shoes of a round, green-haired character who is on a quest to find his tiny, roly-poly friends. Three of these buddies are located in each of the 65 stages spread across seven worlds. Completely helpless, they need you to take them by the hand and guide them to the exit.
Although Soosiz is heavily inspired by Mario games, make no mistake– this is no Ricky, that shoddy rip-off that hit the App Store earlier this year. Like in Super Mario Galaxy (and in Gomi), the platforms that make up the levels have their own gravitational pull, meaning that you can walk down their vertical sides and along the bottoms of them without falling off. Enemy-wise, you’ll find creatures similar to Hammer Brothers, Goombas, Thwomps, and Bullet Bills. But when a game plays this well and sports such a gorgeous unique art style, you won’t waste energy worrying about copyright infringement.
Eat your heart out, Mario.
Each world has its own art style and unique qualities that affect gameplay. In the outer space world, for instance, you jump higher than in the earthly worlds. Special gravity fields that lift you up or push you down are also found in this world, causing you to change up your approach to navigating the platforms. Because of details like these, each world feels unique. Also, each one is capped off with an epic boss battle.
The controls are handled perfectly, with left and right movement arrows and a jump button that feel just right. Collecting 100 coins produces a star above the jump button that, when pressed, replenishes your health and (you guessed it) makes you invincible for a period of time.
The visuals can be dizzying when you’re circumnavigating platform after platform, because the camera always follows your character, making the rest of the world rotate around you. There’s a handy magnifying glass icon in the corner of the screen that zooms the camera out so you can reestablish your bearings. In the zoomed-out view, arrows point in the directions of your buddies and the exit. We were glad these were included, because otherwise it would be easy to get disoriented with the topsy-turvy gameplay.
The inevitable ice world.
And we must mention the music. It’s bad. It loops too quickly and is often at odds with what’s happening on the screen. For instance, the Christmas carol “Up on the Rooftop” assaults your eardrums between levels. Thankfully, if you boot up the game while listening to your own music, you get the option to override the game’s tunes. If you do, the sound effects still come through, which is great, and something a lot of games neglect.
And then there are a couple of wildly creative Blue Coin levels in each world, which turn the basic gameplay on its ear. In some, for instance, you use tilt controls like in the Rolando series to roll across the platforms. Regular stages have secret areas to find and gold medals to earn. The whole game gradually increases in difficulty at a pace that is certainly challenging but never feels overwhelming.
The amount of content packed into Soosiz is awesome. It sports excellent level variety, epic boss battles, and platform hopping galore. It may bear more than a passing resemblance to games set in the Mushroom Kingdom, but it uses the inspiration to great effect. Soosiz should absolutely not be missed.