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Callys Caves 2

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Worth spelunking?

Product: Callys Caves 2 | Publisher: Jordan Pearson | Developer: Jordan Pearson | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
Callys Caves 2 iPhone, thumbnail 1
Callys Caves 2 is an overhaul of the original Callys Caves. This time around our dear protagonist Cally must plough through hundreds of enemies in a retro platformer with RPG elements.

The aim of the game is to reach the evil Dr Herbert's lair and rescue Cally's parents.

Controls are fluid and a little loose, with a virtual D-pad and three buttons - jump, shoot, and sword attack. They're laid out comfortably, and make the game easy to pick up. The mistakes I made while playing felt like they were down to me, rather than the buttons.

The descent

The caves are split up into stages that last about a minute or so if you're clearing out each room as you go along. Baddies explode into a cloud of coins, gems, hearts, and experience plops, but can almost always be avoided.

There are 14 different enemy types and six bosses spread out over all 104 levels, and there's a good deal of variety between foes. The Spelunky-like bats prove to be particularly annoying.

Lloyd, seemingly a vagrant hippy / stalker / friend of Cally, pops up every few levels with a tip or two. One of the first nuggets of advice he gave me was to stay out of the water as my parents hadn't given me lessons. But apparently I can wield a plethora of guns no problem.

For a game that advertises itself as difficult, Callys Caves 2 is enormously forgiving. Yes, even when maxed out at level 20 a standard enemy can kill you within a few seconds, but that merely sends you back to the start of the level.

The haunting game over screen serves as more of a punishment than the actual loss - a few measly coins that can easily be replenished.

IAPs explained
Only one IAP is available, offering poison bullets, extra gems and ad removal for 69p / 99c.

The ads only pop up in the menus and are completely unintrusive. It's really more of a 'donate' option than a necessary purchase.
Show me the cache

You have constant access to a shop with permanent character upgrades. These range from a triple jump and coin multipliers to health regeneration and dodge-chance upgrades. Once they've all been purchased, only the health refill option is left, but it still makes bosses a cakewalk.

Weapons include a pistol, shotgun, and assault rifle, as well as more out there options like a laser gun, icegun, and bow. Each has a different bullet spread for tackling baddies more effectively.

Some, such as the harpoon-firing spike gun, are required for accessing secret areas and progressing through certain stages. These weapons rarely prove useful against enemies though.

I found the boomerang and bomb gun the most fun to use. You can get the former trapped behind ghouls and deal endless damage, while the latter lets you propel enemies skywards. Experimentation is the key to success.

Each weapon can be upgraded to a maximum level of ten. Each level increases the damage output, while reaching levels four, seven, and ten provides cosmetic upgrades.

Projectiles enemies throw at you can be nullified with your sword attack. It can be upgraded via the in-game store, where a classic The Legend of Zelda-esque energy-wave sword bash can also be purchased.

Easy now

The most fun I had was finding ways to exploit the game. By making use of exits or entrances near gems, you can travel to and fro to collect tons of money for upgrades within the first few levels.

Similarly bosses can be exploited for gun and character experience. Just beaten a boss? Why not travel back through to the exit of the stage and attack it from behind, where it can't reach you.

This may not be in the spirit of the game, but the option is there, intentionally or not.

The soundtrack ranges from downright moody melodies to upbeat synthesised tunes, and it all fits very well with the detailed sprite-based graphics.

While it has a great sense of style, Callys Caves 2 still feels unfinished.

Not having branching routes feels like a missed opportunity, and having gems as the only hidden treasure rather than upgrades or rare guns seems a shame.

Despite that, Callys Caves 2 is still a rich and rewarding retro platformer. And if you’re willing to put the time in, you’ll find a lot to like.
Callys Caves 2
Reviewer photo
Danny Russell | 14 July 2014
If you're feeling the itch for a platformer of yore, Callys Caves 2 is an easy recommendation
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