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Mad Acorn

For:   Also on: iPhoneiPad
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A-oakay

Product: Mad Acorn | Developer: APD | Publisher: APD | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, Music/ Rhythm | Players: 1 | File size: 101MB | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
 
Mad Acorn iPhone, thumbnail 1
If you think about it, musicals are just martial arts films for pacifists. The only difference between dancing and having a kung-fu battle is that one involves smiling and moving your limbs harmlessly in time to violins and the other involves frowning and moving your limbs harmfully in time to violence. 

Mad Acorn embodies this fundamental similarity. Not only is it about punching things, but it's about punching them in time to music as you romp from left to right across horizontally scrolling levels. The enemies are beats, and so you both dance to them and beat them.

You play as a squirrel private detective called Mad Acorn, and the game is tidily organised into four 'case files', with more to come in free updates. Each case file contains four missions, the last of which contains a boss.

Anybody familiar with rhythm-action games will know what to expect. Music plays as you barrel along, and enemies and obstacles file in from the opposite side of the screen in waves that coincide with particular beats in the songs.

You tap the screen when an enemy or obstacle is in range to attack or dodge it, and the closer you match your taps to the beats in the songs the better. After 30 uninterrupted taps you unlock a combo, making it easier to score heavily.

Rhythm is a bouncer

As with all good rhythm-action games, the most satisfying and successful way to play is to surrender a little part of yourself to the rhythm. Every time you brush aside a line of enemies in perfect time you feel your shoulders swing to the beat.

But if you ever become complacent and let your musical instincts take over you'll immediately come unstuck. While everything conforms to a pattern, the pattern keeps changing, making the gameplay a fine balance of intuition and alertness.

Mad Acorn
is a well-made machine festooned under fresh and unusual presentation. There's something of early Disney cartoons in the graphics, with bold, characterful sprites that are both organic in their fluidity of movement and mechanical in their precise repetition.

And it's also distinctly modern, with 16 original dance-type tracks to bounce along to and even a windfarm in the background at one point alongside the more classic-looking oil derricks and water towers. And, of course, there are super-contemporary three-star ratings to aim for.

It's not perfect. The comic book cut-scenes tend to look fussy and unpolished, and this fussiness extends into some of the levels, making obstacles difficult to make out on an iPhone screen. And for all that the core game is solid there's very little embellishment to it – there's not much practical difference between the enemies, and there are no additional game modes.

But this is close to nit-picking. Mad Acorn is a mechanically perfect rhythm-action game with charming and original presentation. Not only does it let you kick things, but it lets you kick them in a satisfying rhythmic way. That should be all the recommendation you need.


 
Mad Acorn
Reviewer photo
Rob Hearn | 19 June 2012
Mad Acorn may not be the most polished or generously equipped rhythm-action game, but it's charming, original, and works perfectly in all the ways that really matter
 
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