Today, I will be taking a look at Aeropack, from Micah Lee (who generously provided a review copy) and his company, Insurgent Games, which follows my previous reviews of his four star [ (x)(x)(x)(x)( ) ] shooter, teh internets (2009), and puzzle game, Skeleton Key (2009). Lee again gets bonus points for coming out with something completely different in Aeropak, which is best described as a platform puzzle game, and is officially described as "A Steampunk Retro Platformer". The premise? Using your fuel hungry jetpack, walk, jump, fly, and climb to collect all of the gems in a level (and extra fuel whenever possible), and avoid anything that moves.
After a fairly lengthy load, some nice guitar music plays on the title screen, and you're presented with four options: Play, Help, Options, and About.
About gives the credits, in this case, familiar names Micah Lee and Crystal Mayer on design, and Kevin MacLeod on music. Options allows enabling or disabling of the sound or music. Help provides the following two screens, each of which provides with you all you need to know to play:
Selecting Play let's you begin play at a level of your choosing, as long as you previously passed it:
Selecting a level begins your game. There is no time limit, so careful play is key. You'll note that the graphics really are "retro" and have a certain amateurish quality to them, but they nevertheless serve their purpose.
Sound effects are sparse, but if you choose to have the music playing, the balance between the two is acceptable, and, as was stated earlier, turning off either is just an option screen away, which is good, as the more time you take to finish a level, the more likely you'll want the music off since it's on a rather short and noticeable loop. Control is simple, with a finger tip in the lower left of the screen controlling your character's left/right movement, and a finger tip on the lower right of the screen controlling thrust and climbing. Naturally, Apple's touch screen handhelds have trouble duplicating traditional control schemes, so if you have problems with virtual d-pads, you'll have problems here. Of course, this problem is minimized to a degree since there's only left/right movement, but control is still touchy and true precision difficult, making for some frustrating and unfortunate deaths. While hardware limitations are not necessarily the designer's problem, despite my fat thumbs, I still can't help thinking that the sensitivity could have been adjusted better here.
Like them or hate them controls aside, is the game fun? If you like classics like Jetpac (1983, Ultimate), and particularly Jetpack (1993, Software Creations), which seems to me to be the game's main inspiration, you'll probably get more out of Aeropack than someone who either doesn't or is unfamiliar with those titles. Taken on its own, Aeropack offers a large number of levels, a good selection of enemies, and unique platforming gameplay with a small puzzle element. If you can put up with what at times seems like cheap deaths due to the controls, I think you'll find a worthy addition to your iTunes game library.
The official trailer:
Aeropak is available from iTunes for the low price of $2.99, with a free version available for the Macintosh, thanks to the GameSalad-based development system, one of several these days that makes multi-platform support much easier than it would be otherwise. Aeropak for the iPod Touch and iPhone gets a "Solid" three out of five stars [ (x)(x)(x)( )( ) ] , and is recommended with the reservations noted in the review above. Finally, since all of the other Insurgent Games titles were mentioned in this review, save for one, Alphabet Blocks, I'm mentioning it now. It's described as a "fun and beautiful educational toy to help kids learn their ABC's and numbers". The best part? It's free.
BEGIN PRESS RELEASE:
Hi mobile gaming sites! We at Insurgent Games have decided to make all our games free and open source! I thought you and your readers might be interested. You can also find a copy of this press release on our website at http://www.insurgentgames.com/open-source/. Please let me know if you cover this, for my curiosity more than anything else :).
Insurgent Games Makes All Games Free, Releases Everything as Open Source
Skeleton Key, Cryptose, teh internets, Aeropack, and Alphabet Blocks are now all free to download and source code is available
February 26, 2012
Earlier this week, Insurgent Games released their many celebrated iOS and Android games as open source projects, posting the source code for download on Github. This allows aspiring game developers to learn and build their own games from the code. Also, fans can download any game for free from the iOS App Store and the Android Market.Insurgent Games was founded in 2009 by Micah Lee and Crystal Mayer out of their San Francisco studio apartment. For a couple of years they happily made iPhone and Android games. They quickly realized that unless you’re incredibly lucky, it’s hard to make enough money developing indie mobile games to pay San Francisco rent. So Micah got a full time job and Crystal moved on to other things.
Now, several years later, Micah works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation defending internet users from evil, and Crystal is a freelance web designer. But Insurgent Games is dormant.
Since they’re not working on the games anymore, they decided to release them to the community. They hope their games will thrive and be reborn as bigger and better things. All of their games are licensed under the GNU General Public License.
You can download the code for our projects here:
Skeleton Key is an addictive and unique puzzle game in which you shift keys around the board unlocking treasure chests
iOS code: https://github.com/insurgentgames/Skeleton-Key-iOS
iPad code: https://github.com/insurgentgames/Skeleton-Key-HD-iPad
Android code: https://github.com/insurgentgames/Skeleton-Key-Marmalade
Cryptose is an addictive cryptogram game with three gritty occupations to choose from: Hacker, Detective, or Spy.
iOS, Android code: https://github.com/insurgentgames/Cryptose
In Aeropack you must run, climb, and fly your way through 30 unique platform levels collecting all the green gems
iOS code: https://github.com/insurgentgames/Aeropack
teh internets – When Memes Attack is a (cyber)space shooter of epic proportions
iOS code: https://github.com/insurgentgames/teh-internets
Alphabet Blocks is a fun and beautiful educational toy to help kids learn their ABC’s and numbers!
iOS code: https://github.com/insurgentgames/Alphabet-Blocks