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Gear Jack
Needs oiling
By Harry Slater 16 November 2012
Game Name: Gear Jack | Developer: Piwot | Publisher: Forest Moon Games | Format: iPhone, iPad | Genre: Action, Endless running | Players: 1 | Networking: Bluetooth | Version: Europe
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The auto-running platformer is a product of the smartphone age, in which simple controls and bite-sized levels are often more important than breathtaking graphics or deep multiplayer modes.

Gear Jack should be a prime example of the genre, but it falls at the final hurdle. After intriguing you with its simple mechanics and enticing you with its charming good looks, it spoils the auto-running party with a hard slap of frustration.

You don't know Jack

The aim of the game is simple. You're a robot in a spaceship that's starting to crash, and you need to work your way to safety. The robot runs automatically from left to right and you're given control over two of his actions - rolling and jumping.

The game also has another trick up its sleeve, quite literally. Occasionally you'll jump through markers with an 'up' or 'down' symbol on them. You'll need to tap the corresponding button at the right time to perform a special move that will see you safely across an otherwise impassable gap.

So you'll race through 30 levels leaping over spinning cogs and rolling through gaps to try and save your little android's digital life. Jumps performed after rolls will spring you higher, and you'll need to tap doors to open them, and on cogs to stop them crushing you.

And when things go right, it's an impressive spectacle. The problem is, a little too often Gear Jack is a frustrating experience.

Grinds my gears

Your taps on trick markers regularly go unregistered, leaving you plummeting to an untimely death. Traps sneak up, leaps need to be pixel-perfect, and any failure warps you straight back to the start of the level, even if you're just a step from the end.

It's a real shame, because there's innovation here in spades, but it just ends up buried under a wall of shrieking frustration. A kinder checkpoint system, or a more forgiving way of calculating failure, would work wonders here.

It's worth persevering, though, through gritted teeth and clenched fists, because when Gear Jack works it's a prime example of the auto-runner.

Summary
With a few tweaks, Gear Jack could be a wonderful game. As it is, it's nearly crushed under a pile of frustrations
RATING
6/10
 
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