I have to admit that Meganoid didn't exactly have me chomping at the bit at first glance. The pixel-animated app game seemed a lot like too many other platform jumper apps, and when I noticed the timer I assumed I'd be scored based on how quickly I ran through each of the very short levels. Not that there's anything wrong with a game like that, but I was hoping for something a little more challenging.
I'm happy to report that first impression was premature to say the least and Meganoid is one of the most unusual platform games on the iPhone.
The timer I was nervous about is actually a countdown timer. If you beat the level before the timer runs down, you earn one of each level's two bonus stars. You receive the other bonus star for collecting all the stars scattered throughout each level, which is more challenging than it sounds.
Rather than placing these collectables in hard-to-reach areas, they're often in secret passages and behind objects you had no idea you could walk through. It was a treat to explore each level, looking for secrets rather than simply rush through the game setting speed records.
If you collect both bonuses in each level you can then play through that particular stage as a different character. As bonuses go, it's not exactly at the top of the list, but it functions well enough as a way to provide added replay-ability.
The levels themselves are very short, as most can be finished within 45 seconds, but they're still well-designed. You have to beat away enemies by throwing boxes and platforms disappear, which gives the jumping portion of the game an old-school feel.
If nothing else, Meganoid proves there's nothing wrong with an old-school-style game when care is taken to make it both challenging and fun. If you're hungry for a classic gaming challenge that doesn't conform to the usual standards of app game platformers, Meganoid is worth a long look.