There have been many attempts at creating platformers on the iPhone, and most don't do much to stand out from the crowd. Raccoon Rising is a new vertical platformer from Romper Games, and it does just that. It's a great looking, fun-to-play title that tries something new.
The adventure is all about a lazy but skilled raccoon trying to save his forest as well as the forests of the world from evil lumber gathering robots. This raccoon happens to be some kind of ninja, and he has some mad hops. The story is told through very basic comic book panels, and while it's nothing remarkable, it gets the job done.
Each world consists of several sections or levels back to back. As you go higher, you'll cross special gates that close behind you, signifying a new level. Once crossing a gate, you'll get rated out of three stars based on how many computer chip/card things you picked up, and whether you complete the level before the timer in the top right corner runs down. Along the way, you'll have to deal with cannons, circular saws, spiked balls of doom, exploding barrels, bouncy buttons, and more. Eventually, you'll reach the highest section and face the boss of that world. The bosses try to mix things up a bit, but overall didn't feel like anything special.
The controls are simple. You just tap where you want the Raccoon to jump. You can hold your finger on the screen to slow things down and do a focused jump. While slowing things down, you can target random barrels or lumber and slice through them super quickly. You can also dash to either side of the level by tapping towards that side while in mid-air. This game is very reminiscent of endless runners like Ninjump, except it's much more strategic. You have plenty of chances to stop and strategize your next leaps. The challenge mostly comes from trying to collect all the chips as you go, and many deaths can be avoided by ignoring them. The game still has plenty of challenging sections where precision jumping is required. It can be hard to gauge whether you'll fit through a gap or not, and some sections are tireless exercises in trial and error. Once you've completed a world, you can revisit it in Time Trial mode for some extra challenge.
Throughout his quest, the raccoon will visit a temple, forest, pirate ship, and eventually a highly advanced city. There is a nice variety to the four worlds. The graphics and animations from Pixelnauts all look great, though they decided to go with a more de-saturated look for a lot of the game, and it can feel a bit dull or lifeless at times. Each area is accompanied by its own soundtrack and unique feel. Game Center achievements are supported, and the game is iOS Universal. This is a title with original ideas and innovations, and while it's a bit short, the developers have stated big plans for future updates. You can save this forest for just one dollar. Also, at one point, my mind made the unfortunate connection to Eric Cartman's "The Coon" from South Park. I kept expecting Cthulu or Mysterion or Mint-Berry Crunch to show up in the game for some reason. This is totally irrelevant to the review, but it just made the game more amusing to me and I felt like sharing.