By and large, in mobile gaming, simplicity is key. Unless you’ve got high aspirations or are trying to start a revolution from the palm of somebody’s hand, the easier-to-grasp your title is, the better. Many smartphones users still do not play games regularly, so if you make your game in a way that even Grandma Agnes can grasp, it’s all the better for it. Temple Jump revels in this philosophy and is perhaps the simplest game to hit the mobile market since Flappy Bird.
As evidenced in the obvious title, this game involves three things: temples, jumping, and jumping in temples. Temple Jump is extremely high-concept, and this continues through in its controls; you touch the screen to jump, and a longer press equates to a bigger leap. You’ll need to jump from platform to platform in order to avoid lava, and this involves judging how much of a jump you need – the best way to do this is watch the apex of your jump and use this to work out where your character will land accordingly. The ease of control is a breath of fresh air, even for the pared-back mobile games medium; you’ll be up and running in seconds, and the elegance of input leads to a genuinely edifying, frustrating, yet ultimately addictive play experience. Proceedings are made a little bit more complex when obstacles are added to the mix. Platforms will start to shift, death spikes start flying at you, and the lava is, of course, omnipresent. Further diversity is added with random sections that ape Flappy Bird – what is it with mobile developers and their inability to stop singing the praises of Flappy Bird? – that ensure every procedurally-generated run never feels the game as the last. This game, in all its simplicity laid bare, is magical stuff that keeps you coming back for more.
There really is nothing more to this game than what has been described, and yet I’ve already put untold hours into the game thus far. The thrill of making perfect jumps in sequence and picking up a gem for each well-executed leap is video gaming in its most pure and distilled form. The combination of making a tricky jump correctly combined with the better-than-crack musical note played when you score a point? It’s conceptually gorgeous, and a near-perfect storm of a game, where the world around you and your battery life will disappear in short order.
A distinctive point about the game is its fantastic range of unlockable characters. The sprite you control isn’t much more than a square, but the game offers about 30 skins that are made available by exchanging collected gems, and these characters are as fabulous as they are copyright-infringing. Temple Jump allows you to play from a range of this-can’t-be-legal characters including the “Readdit” robot, “Cave Raider”, “Mega Dude”, and “Bat Guy”. While these are just superficial changes that don’t really factor into the game (you could play as the poo emoji and it wouldn’t change things), Nexx Studio’s commitment to providing the player with fun homages is a respectable move; if the habit-forming gameplay wasn’t enough to keep you playing, the motivation of making these legally-dubious faces available will.
However, crushingly, Temple Jump is not perfect, and has two glaring flaws, although due to the strength of the gameplay, these will not dampen the fun in any way. First of all, the graphics are styled in the faux-8-bit style that’s in vogue with independent developers, but Temple Jump lacks attractive detailing and shading, and as such, the game looks rather bland and lifeless, with just some colours strewn together with very little artistry behind it.
Disappointingly, there is no music in this game, which hurts, as a strong soundtrack would have really added some shine to the tremendous gameplay. There are only two sound effects, really: a low droning noise for the background, and a standard “bing” noise for when you pick up a gem. The developers were lazy as far as sound was concerned, and they could have attempted to build more of a world with music. As such, this is the game’s biggest shame, but the upside of this is that you can play your own music: crank on Best: The Greatest Hits of S Club 7 and you’re good to go.
Aesthetic concerns aside, this is a fantastic game for killing time, and then some, as it has a compelling gameplay mechanic that will cut your spare time to ribbons. Take the jump on Temple Jump – it’s a free download, and if nothing else, it’ll make those long waits at the doctor’s office or in the car park fly by.
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Crack is less addictive than the tight and uber-fun gameplay mechanics of Temple Jump.