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APPsolutely Review - Gravity Guy 2

Mark Marianelli

Who doesn't remember 2010's Gravity Guy by Miniclip? The game where you could flip gravity and run on both the floor AND the ceiling with just the tap of a screen. Set in a distopian future where there are laws which prohibit altering gravity, one man is imprisoned for breaking the rules... But he broke out and that's where your adventure began, you would control Gravity Guy as he fled his pursuers, switching between running upside down and rightside up. The game was a modern-day classic in the iOS world for its unique gameplay and interesting set up. It was one of the few "runners" out there which had a story mode in addition to an endless mode and even a multiplayer mode. Just imagine how excited I was to open my app store this week and see GRAVITY GUY 2.

Well upon opening this game, there was only one thing that matched my excitement... My complete and utter confusion. Nothing about this game resembles Gravity Guy 1 in any fashion. It's more of a sidequel or a spiritual sequel. It is to Gravity Guy 1 what Soldier was to Blade Runner or what Super Mario Brothers 2 was to Super Mario Brothers 1.

I think I made it pretty clear in an earlier review that I'm not a fan of misleading titles. And that's pretty much exactly what this is, only where Static Quest was most likely named for ironic purposes, I'm fairly certain Gravity Guy 2 was given its title to make some extra cash. And it worked. They got 99 of my precious cents. Or maybe the creators were more interested in the continuation of a story rather than duplicating and modifying the older gameplay. If you go by the plot, it picks up kind of where the original left off; Gravity Guy was finally caught after the events of the last game (depressing, no? All that running for nothing) and sent to a spaceship where he was cloned (along with a bunch of other outcasts) to compete in a series of races across the distopian earth. So maybe on one hand, this explains the lack of gravity-altering abilities, the government has banned them, so why would a bunch of captive racers be allowed to use them? Fair enough but I'm still calling this a cop out.

In addition to there being no resemblance in gameplay to the original, there's also no more story mode. So if the creators were so determined to focus on the plot aspect of this game, why is it just another endless runner like a million other apps out there? If this game is a series of races as the description claims, why is there no timer? No opponents? No finish line? The last one had multiplayer and that game had nothing to do with racing, so why does the RACING game not have any multiplayer? Heck, speaking of the game description, why did I have to read about it in the iTunes store rather than getting a a cool opening cutscene like the original game? Why is this nothing like it's supposed to be?!?!?!

Ugh. I've complained enough. Sort of. I should again reemphasize that this game is not what you're going to be expecting, so don't get your hopes up on that end. Instead, I want you to approach this game with a different title in your mind: "Jetpack Joyride 2: Jetpackless". Trust me, if you go into this game with that title in your mind, you'll be more than satisfied and totally not confused. The amount of similarities this game bears to Halfbrick Studio's crowning achievement is uncanny:

They also both have a system of giving you three objectives at a time to accomplish and those objectives are pretty much the same thing between games (e.g., collect X amount of coins, travel a distance of X on foot/ in air, etc...). Not to mention, Jetpack Joyride actually had a Gravity Guy costume power up which would allow you to switch between running on the ceiling or running on the floor... So now, Jetpack Joyride officially has more in common with Gravity Guy 1 than Gravity Guy 2 has!

But let's try and just ignore the fact that for all intents and purposes, this isn't REALLY a true Gravity Guy followup, let's even assume you've never played Jetpack Joyride... With that in mind, this game really isn't half bad. I'd even go as far as to say it's pretty addicting, fun and beautifully designed. That's right, I'm willing to overlook my gripes and call this game out for what it is: A pretty awesome game. I'll begin by actually explaining the gameplay for you. As I stated earlier, it's an endless runner, so the basic rules of endless runners apply; you run until something kills you. Basically you're just jumping from rooftop to rooftop collecting coins and dodging obstacles. The means by which you jump however is interesting. Pressing the left side of the screen performs a basic jump, but you're not going to use this very often, it's a short range jump that will barely get you to the next platform. Tapping that side of the screen while you're in the air performs a mid-air jump (the double jump you will actually use more often). Tapping the right side of the screen is where it's at. This, pardon my pun, raises the roof. The tops of each building are platforms that lift; they raise your player higher into the air and when you release the lift, your player jumps forward. The higher you raise the platform, the further your player will jump.

Make sense? Kind of? Yeah, it takes some getting used to, but you catch on pretty quickly.

Sometimes the centers of each rooftop glow green, landing on these green areas is considered a "perfect landing" and you get extra coins for doing this. The more perfect jumps in a row, the more coins you get. It's a nice little bonus system which helps you improve your skill at the game.

The physics used here are flawless and the hit detection is perfect, even being a little merciful to the player. I'm willing to bet you'll never say the words "This game is cheating!" when you play. It functions and reacts exactly how you expect it to. I appreciate things like well-applied hit detection, nothing is more frustrating than thinking you've cleared an obstacle only to die due to a poorly developed hit-detection system.

Along the way you'll get a danger indicator to the right of the screen which gives you a heads up that an obstacle is coming. The obstacles start out as little electric orbs which kill you upon touch. They appear one at a time and are pretty easy to avoid. As you progress you run into obstacles like electrified sections of the rooftops and bullseye gates, which are two orbs with a beam connecting them which you have to jump through, but if you touch the orbs, you die.

And that's all the obstacles! Seriously, that's it.

It gets a little redundant, but that redundancy is usually what does you in. You get bored, you get sloppy, you try mixing it up, you die. Were it not for the bonus objectives you're given a long the way, it would get boring very fast. These objectives include things like collecting a certain amount of coins in a run, making it X amount of distance without raising a platform or without collecting any coins, etc... Every time you complete three objectives, you level up. Which isn't as awesome as it sounds, it's more like for every level up, the power ups you use get a little better or you get some bonus coins. The coins allow you to purchase power ups or new characters.

The other thing that keeps you interested is the graphics. This game is absolutely one of the most beautifully designed games I've seen in a long time. The colors, the effects, the detailed backgrounds, the animation, it's all just insanely well done. It's a good looking game and it reaffirms my belief that 2D is still the best looking graphical approach for video games. It's more stylized than 3D can accomplish, it's more artistic, it just requires more love than a CG approach. A lot of times I caught myself playing just because I wanted to look at the backgrounds more.

You can tell a lot of love went into this game even if it was a shameless attempt to cash in on the Gravity Guy name. Speaking of Gravity Guy himself, would it have killed the developers to create a skin that includes the actual Gravity Guy helmet from the original? That thing was awesome looking. He's helmet-less in this game and the only character that comes close to that old look is a robot version of the original Gravity Guy. I mean hey, it's nice to know your protagonist has been blond all this time, but let's be honest, unmasked versions of masked heroes are never as awesome as you think they'll be (yeah, I'm talking to YOU, Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat 3!).

In conclusion, I think it's a really well-made game. The whole endless runner genre is getting a little tiresome, but it's easy to forgive when you have a game as good looking and mildly addicting as this one. I just wish the gameplay could have been a modified version of the original Gravity Guy rather than a re-imagined Jetpack Joyride. It's fun and it will definitely kill a lot of your time during bathroom breaks, but outside of this, it will inevitably get redundant and maybe even a little boring due to its lack of innovative challenges and repetitive coin-grinding gameplay.

Fortunately, one of the greatest joys of apps is that they can be updated and tweaked as often as needed to achieve perfection, so I'm really hoping we'll get an update down the road which will give us a story-mode as well as include some elements from its predecessor. Any element would do; multiplayer, gravity switching, troopers chasing you, puzzles, etc...

Until those updates come pouring in, I won't be giving this game a Carpal Tunnel rating, rather it will get the honorary silver status of "BATHROOM BREAK BALLER"!