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iPad  header logo

Super Obstacle Boy

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Super, obstacle boy

Product: Super Obstacle Boy | Developer: Matthias Falk | Publisher: Matthias Falk | Format: iPad | Genre: Hardcore, Platform, Retro | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Super Obstacle Boy iPad, thumbnail 1
If Super Obstacle Boy were a musical release it'd be a rough first demo, bashed together in a basement with wonky old equipment, with passion standing in for precision, and raw talent standing in for production values.

It's a sketchy, rough-edged platformer with a protagonist that's little more than a couple of tiny legs dangling off a square. It crunches along in places, the simple controls flipping out and leaving you smashing into a wall or jammed in between two pieces of scenery.

Those bugs and troubles don't detract too much from the solid core of rock-hard platforming that sits immovable at the heart of the experience. Super Obstacle Boy is raw and ready, and super proud of that fact.

Raw team meat

The game takes place over a series of bite-size levels littered with spikes, collapsing platforms, bottomless pits, and tantalising gold coins that dangle in mid-air, daring you to change direction mid-jump and risk starting the level all over again.

Your aim is always the same, though - get to your beloved, who's standing waiting patiently for you at the end.

While there are the standard platforming accoutrements draped around the various levels, from speed-up pads to crumbling blocks that disappear after you've stood on them, Super Obstacle Boy uses them in playful ways.

One level needs you to smash your way through a series of collapsing blocks, making a path through the debris to grab a patch of coins, before somehow tracking back to grab the super coin that unlocks later levels, then dodging some spikes to reach your sweetheart and finish the level.

All of this happens in a matter of seconds, and demands knife-sharp reflexes as well as the sort of quick re-assessment of a situation that the finest platformers beg of you.

Garage platforming

A collection of buttons gives you a decent level of control over the titular star, although they are prone to bouts of confusion, with one bug sending me sprinting to the left without me even touching the screen.

There are some problems with the collision detection as well, and often you'll find yourself dangling in mid-air, caught on the invisible remains of some long-disappeared platform with no way of escape other than a distinctly terminal plunge.

The difficulty curve is well handled, though, and the levels themselves, when they're working properly, are brilliantly designed. There's precision craftsmanship beneath the deceptively slack presentation, with retro-charms once again hiding hateful tasks.

Super Obstacle Boy is a game with its influences and estimations worn squarely on a pixellated sleeve. You know from a glance what you're in for, and while the game messes around with what you expect from a hardcore platformer, it's still a hardcore platformer through and through.

No obstacle

In spite of its missteps and mistakes, it's difficult not to like Super Obstacle Boy. It's cruel in just the right way, smooth and silky when it needs to be, and lumpen and brutal whenever it fancies. It rockets along, tossing you from ledges, stabbing you with spikes, and generally making a mess.

But that mess is so endearing, from the chunky soundtrack to the fat pixels that make up the scenery and the protagonists, and the garish, unwelcoming menus, that you can't help but take Super Obstacle Boy into your heart.

It's a skittish, jumbled game that sometimes lacks direction, but that rich gameplay at its centre means you'll be coming back to it time and time again.
Super Obstacle Boy
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 18 February 2014
It might be a bumpy ride in some places, but Super Obstacle Boy offers enough of a platforming challenge that it's difficult not to get swept away by it
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