Just over a year ago, the App Store was graced with League of Evil, a challenging retro precision platformer in the same vein as Super Meat Boy, except not quite as brutal in difficulty. Now iPhone owners get to feel that frustration and rage once again with League of Evil 2 from Ravenous Games.
Gone are the pixel art graphics and chip tunes music, replaced with more modern yet still definitively awesome aesthetics. Everything was tweaked a bit, from the physics and techniques to the enemies, yet it still feels like much more of the same, which is fine and dandy as far as I'm concerned.
It's OK! I understand. I, too, mourned the loss of the old-school retro elements, thinking I would simply have to resentfully accept the change. To my surprise, I came to almost immediately love the new aesthetics. The colors are much more bold, and the varied new animations make the game come to life like never before, all at an increased framerate that's smooth on the eyes. The music is still great as ever. There is actually something of a plotline to this new installment, told through simple black and white comic book pages, and you even learn a bit about the origins of our hero in this tale. The new art and cut-scenes are thanks to the new team member of Ravenous Games, who brings the total count up to three whole developers.
Your job is still to seek out the scientist in each level and punch him hard enough that he explodes into gory chunks, Gears of War style, and of course, there's still a briefcase to grab. The game feels very much the same overall, but there are several small changes. The physics are a bit less floaty than before, and the jump mechanic requires a bit more finesse. It's much easier to mess up your double jumps and make mistakes. Now, running off a ledge counts as a jump, whereas previously one could run off a ledge, jump, jump again, and use an attack to get around.
The time limits to get three stars per level are much harsher now. Before, enough time was given to get the briefcase and kill the scientist in one go, but now they must almost always be done separately. Your best time is always saved, so take your time collecting the briefcase and getting to know the level, and then go on to attempt the speedrun. Some of these times seem completely impossible to hit, but the trick is knowing exactly when to wall jump and when to use your attack to cut the time as short as possible. Mess around with your planned route and techniques, and you'll get it eventually.
There are five different areas and just over 100 levels to enjoy here. These areas all have a very distinct look, with different music, and your hero even wears different costumes in each environment. There are plenty of new enemy soldiers, but also plenty of recycled favorites, like those iconic ninja's that spin around with two pink light sabers. Each new area also introduces new hazards, like acid spitting snakes and floating homing mines. At the end of each area, you'll find another new addition to the series in boss fights. Boss fights against giant cyborg animals. These are pretty cool I guess, but they're also extremely easy and repetitive. The bosses take too many hits to kill without much challenge, making them feel redundant.
This is a great new entry in the franchise, and Ravenous Games knows how to deliver a quality gaming experience. Unfortunately, this early release of the game is full of bugs and glitches. For a while, GameCenter wasn't working at all, and I wasn't getting achievements or posting to the leaderboards. The game also crashed on me four times. The second time my save data was totally wiped, though it came back somehow. The third and fourth times, I was not so lucky. After the third time, I made sure to check forums for solutions and followed their advice. Apparently, iCloud doesn't initiate until after GameCenter signs you in, so starting a game before that happens will overwrite your save. I waited every single time and my memory never came back. This is an iOS universal game with GameCenter and OpenFeint achievement and leaderboard support, and you can get it for the introductory price of one dollar, marked down from three. Ravenous Games has already began fixing and tweaking the heck out of this game, and they always support their titles well. Definitely grab it despite the bugs while it's on sale, though maybe you should wait for an update before playing so that you don't have to play through more than half of the game three times like I did.