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Jack B. Nimble

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad, Windows Phone

Playing by candlelight

Product: Jack B. Nimble | Developer: Sean Noonan | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Adventure, Endless running, Retro | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version:
Jack B. Nimble iPhone, thumbnail 1
Curse those clever indie game developers. They're getting better and better at blinding us with dazzling retro veneer, to the point at which we no longer trust our reviewing senses.

Take Jack B. Nimble, for instance. Brought to us by a dev who's gone rogue from his day job working on Far Cry 4 and Watch Dogs and put together an infinite runner that looks more like a Game Boy game.

Is it a good game, or are we being hypnotised by nostalgic love?

Jack B. Quick

It's not just the gameplay that recaptures the beauty of a Game Boy game in Jack B. Nimble. The credits and the menu screens are equally pixel perfect (circa 1989), and the off-colour monochrome is spot on.

A couple of maroon buttons on the iPhone screen, and happy handheld days would be here once more.

The game casts you as the vaguely Mario-esque Jack B. Nimble, whose only purpose in life is to leg it along the walls for as long as possible, jumping over gaps and whipping candles to extinguish them as he leaps through the air.

You've only one control to contend with - tapping. Tap to jump, tap and hold to jump higher and for longer, and add a second tap while in the air to whip at the pole-mounted wax.

Putting the candles out increases your score multiplier, but is a quick way to muck up a jump or landing and pitch Jack headlong into the underbrush.

As an infinite runner it's simple and classic, and given its nostalgic bent, that's the right decision for the developer to have made.

Blinded by the pixels 

Removing the rose tinted contact lenses for a moment, we must admit to recalling some significant frustrations when playing the Game Boy back in the day.

The screen blurred like a long distance grey scale photo of Big Foot walking through the woods, at which point our character inevitably fell off a cliff.

Jack B. Nimble is on an iPhone, of course, and the days of slow-shifting LCDs are way behind us. And yet, this game actually suffers a similar ailment.

The visuals - as beautifully retro as they might be - are very, very busy. The background is a parallax scrolling mountain-scape complete with clouds and lightning. There's another layer of nearby walls, and trees rapidly shoot past in the foreground.

All this builds into a pixelated camouflage that disrupts what you can actually see. While it's deliberate with the foreground tree trunks, the monochromatic styling makes it tricky to see what you're actually supposed to be doing.

It's an easy trap to fall into - creating a retro game, and inadvertently creating retro shortcomings at the same time. In the case of Jack B. Nimble, the quick and delicious gameplay ultimately wins out, and makes the visual cacophony forgivable.

But it'll likely shorten the game's life, and that's a little harder to forgive.
Jack B. Nimble
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 7 October 2014
Everything an infinite runner needs, with a delicious side helping of retro goodness. But you might need laser eye surgery to keep track of the graphics as Jack reaches full sprint
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