If you want to combine platforming and timing-based mechanics, you can’t go wrong with a swinging game. The pendulum-like physics of a body dangling from a fixed point is more than just science– it’s fun, too. One series that has expertly utilized the mechanics of swinging in platforming games is Hook Champ from RocketCat, with its multiple spin-offs and spiritual successors.
Hook Champ brings together many elements that we look for in a great game. It has expressive, retro graphics, well-written dialogue full of humor, and an addictive gameplay mechanic. The concept isn’t brand-new: You’re an adventurer trying to escape from a cavern while being chased by something huge and terrible, an idea that has been done before in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and later, in Temple Run. Your chief mode of transportation, swinging, means that you’ll stay airborne for most of the thrilling ride, timing your taps to cross huge pits and find new escape routes. Later updates added friend challenges and bonus levels, making this one of the most complete iOS platformers of all time.
Key Quote: “Hook Champ is kind of like a mashup of Indiana Jones and Tarzan, with splendid 16-bit graphics and absurd humor to boot.”
The follow-up to Hook Champ, Super QuickHook, sought to improve on the original in a number of ways. The characters are larger, with slightly more detail, while still retaining the same classic pixel-art look. You also have the time to explore the environment without being chased– unless you opt for Avalanche Mode, which has you outrunning and out-swinging an approaching wall of snow. Despite some repetitive level design, we still consider Super QuickHook to be a Must Have platformer.
Key Quote: “Thankfully, this time there’s no chomper nipping at your heels, so you can explore each level at your own pace. As you swing around, you’ll notice that the game’s physics and grappling mechanic have been honed to near perfection, so you always feel completely in control.”
The next game from RocketCat was Hook Worlds, a compilation of four different type of auto-running games. These missions involved swinging, shooting, switching gravity, and even a retro version of Hook Champ. Though we appreciated the variety found in this minigame pack, there were already a number of competing auto-running games, like Monster Dash and Gravity Runner, which offer more depth. Hook Worlds isn’t a bad game, but it wasn’t a full-fledged experience like previous RocketCat platformers.
Key Quote: “Hook Worlds is missing all of the exploration, level progression, and online challenges that made Super QuickHook our Game of the Month back in June. These four little games are each fun for a quick minute or two, but we’ve come to expect much more depth, even for a buck.”
If Hook Champ, Super QuickHook, and Hook Worlds were all part of a thematic trilogy, Mage Gauntlet is where RocketCat really started to explore new gameplay concepts. Mage Gauntlet is an action-RPG, similar to Gauntlet or Zelda, with a top-down view and swarms of enemies. Mage Gauntlet is more than just a hack-and-slash game, though, because it’s full of self-aware jokes about RPG conventions. Also, it wouldn’t be a RocketCat game without an unhealthy obsession with hats, which you could buy using in-game currency to enhance your character’s abilities and look.
Key Quote: “Mage Gauntlet hearkens back to the days of SNES 16-bit action RPGs with incredibly detailed pixel art and challenging levels. The game’s story is simple, and the dialogue pokes fun at RPG cliches such as fetch quests, ‘trash’ enemies, and smashing objects.”
RocketCat’s last major release (in collaboration with Madgarden) was Punch Quest, a free-to-download side-scrolling action game with a completely original combat system. Like the title suggests, your main action in the game is punching with either a straight jab or uppercut. Using these two moves, you can slam enemies into each other or juggle them in the air for extended combos. The levels are randomized, so you never know when you’re going to have to face a giant cyclops or ride a laser-shooting velociraptor. You’ll be making runs over and over again, just trying to complete one more objective, unlock new attacks, or earn more in-game currency, called “punchos”. Taking what they’ve learned from Punch Quest and their other games, RocketCat is already working on their next title, Wayward Saga.
Key Quote: “For its incredible graphics, sound, physics, controls, and humor, we’re giving Punch Quest our highest recommendation. The fact that this amazing, high-score beat ‘em up game is a free download is just the cherry on a delicious sundae.”
Next week, we’ll revisit the best sci-fi first-person shooter series on mobile, Gameloft’s N.O.V.A. 1-3.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.