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They Need To Be Fed

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad, Xperia Play

Tasty morsel

Product: They Need To Be Fed | Developer: Bit Ate Bit | Publisher: YoYo Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
They Need To Be Fed iPhone, thumbnail 1
With obesity one of the key health issues for the developed world, it makes sense to question food in terms of quality versus quantity.

It's the same for games. They've never been more available, nor have there been more people playing them, but innovation and flair remain in short supply.

Indeed, the quality versus quantity issue also affects individual titles. It's easier for designers to hone the experience the fewer levels they have to create, but the market always demands more.

They Need To Be Fed, one of the first titles to be translated from its web origins to iPhone by UK outfit YoYo Games, is a prime example.

Beautifully presented, it cleverly creates longevity by mixing up difficulty and level progression, and leaves you wanting more.

Might as well jump

The creation of one indie developer Jesse Venbrux (who's since gone on to work for Japanese studio Q Entertainment), They Need To Be Fed has you controlling a cute little bug-eyed alien character in a world of 360-degree gravity.

Your controls are left, right, and jump. In levels consisting of geometric shapes such as circles, squares, and triangles, you use your momentum to run around and jump between objects, avoiding obstacles such as spiky balls, missile-firing cannons, and balls of energy.

Making things more tricky, and enjoyable, is the dynamism of the levels.

Some objects move on rails and some rotate, although with many of their sides covered in spikes you have to time your jumps just right not to come a cropper. Other objects disappear a couple of seconds after you land on them, vapourising you in the process if you don't manage to jump somewhere else in time.

Shiny, shiny

Your mission is to collect the diamonds scattered through each level and then feed them, and yourself, into the mouth of the monster at the end - they of the They Need To Be Fed title.

And it's the way the collection of diamonds underpins the level structure that really makes the game enjoyable.

There are six worlds, each consisting of seven standard levels and one special one, and each world brings a new obstacle into play. Worlds are unlocked as you feed a prerequisite number of diamonds to the monsters, and each special level is only unlocked when your diamond total is up to 99.

However, you can play through any of the seven levels in each unlocked world in any order, and without collecting all (or any) of the diamonds, and it's this flexibility that enables you to really enjoy They Need To Be Fed.

It's needed, too, because despite the shortness of each level they can be very difficult to complete, with your alien character often disappearing into a black cloud of Game Over.

Thinly sliced

Adding a further layer, you can earn a star on each level for completing it and losing a minimum number of lives.

In this way, the game always provides you with something to do, whether it's replaying certain levels to collect more diamonds or retrying others to earn stars.

Combined with the smoothness of the action and the sheer fun of controlling your alien and bouncing around each level (even dying is kind of enjoyable), the only disappointment about the game is that there aren't more levels available.

In that respect, They Need To Be Fed can't be described as full course meal. But, as after a spoonful of caviar or a slice of prized bluefin tuna sushi, once your palette has been heightened other puzzle platformers might taste rather ordinary.
They Need To Be Fed
Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan | 30 November 2010
A great example of the innovation bubbling up from indie games, They Need To Be Fed is a lovely little action platformer. Your only disappointment will be its brevity
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