When Plushed [$0.99 / Lite] was first released, nearly two years ago now, it seemed like the start of something great. When we played the platformer we found it flawed but ambitious, a funny, lovely-looking game that was a few tweaks short of complete success. For the first App Store release from Blacksmith Games, though, it was an impressive start.
Now, following quite a gap, we have the next game under the Plushed banner: Plushed Gold Fever [Free]. And while it's good to see Blacksmith Games back at it, those of us hoping for an equally ambitious follow-up will need to keep waiting. Plushed Gold Fever is an enjoyable game, but it isn't quite a worthy successor.
Three minigames make up the meat of Plushed Gold Fever, and they're all designed around a gold rush theme. Gold-Grabber is a fast-paced claw machine, Gold-Cart is an endless runner, and Gold-Smasher is a color-matching brick breaker. They're all fun, and they're all centered around collecting gold that you can use to buy power-ups and new characters. It should come as no shock, but you can also purchase gold and skip the messy business of actually playing the game.
Between the three games, I'm partial to Gold-Smasher. It's not outstandingly original, but it's fun. Mineral bricks fill the play area and you can smash any group of two or more, causing more to fall into place and filling a progress bar. As you level up more block types are introduced, making it ever-harder to proceed. The game only grants you a minute per level, so a screen filled with mismatched blocks is a quick trip to failure.
Gold-Grabber is all about timing and aim. A claw rotates on a static mine cart, and tapping launches it straight outwards. You earn points by grabbing gold and other valuables, but stones, bats and other obstacles slow you down. This mode is on the same timer system as Gold-Smasher, so a lack of precision can hurt.
In Gold-Cart, your character of choice climbs into a runaway mine cart and travels as far as possible. Your input is limited to swipes -- up to jump and down to duck. There are occasional tricky bits, but you're most likely to be killed by something that appeared on screen too late for you to react to than any particular challenge. Or, if you're stuck on an older device, you may fall prey to slow performance.
In all of these games you earn coins that can be put toward power-ups. These are consumable, but they're relatively inexpensive and can save you from certain death. You can also unlock two alternate characters. You also collect plush toys while you play, and these tell a bit of a story in the game's Library.
I've had a good time with Plushed Gold Fever, but on the whole it falls flat. There's nothing here to push it beyond mindless entertainment. A hefty selection of Game Center achievements and leaderboards may motivate the meta-gamers, and attractive art and good music keep things from becoming too dull. It's just that it's no Plushed, and it's not interesting enough on its own merits to make up for that failing. But for the price, it's a reasonably fun package, one that our forum users have enjoyed as well.
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