While looking at the preview pics for Sleepy Jack [$0.99 / HD], I couldn’t help but recall one of my past favorite titles with a motif that revolved around dreams. That game is NiGHTS Into Dreams, of course, and any other gamer who spent long evenings discovering that magical world will surely feel a bit like Sleepy Jack’s developers might have been fans of it.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, both games send you into a universe in your dreams and challenge you to navigate it. In Sleepy Jack, you play Jack, a darling boy who is hurtling through a nighttime world at top speed and needs your assistance to proceed. To help him explore worlds of space, desert and the deep sea, you’ll need to arm your trusty pistol and get your dodging skills ready.

Sleepy Jack runs you through each level on rails, so all you’ll need to be responsible for is moving left and right and shooting your weapon. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It can be at first, but as the levels become more complex you may find that it requires some real skill to execute those moves and keep from getting hit. While it’s no bullet hell, it certainly does pose a challenge (but if you find it too much you can always adjust the difficulty – easy, medium and hard are all there).

Each level features both Zs to collect (which keep you asleep), obstacles to avoid and rings to aim for in order to collect bonuses. The button you touch to move left and right requires an extra tap in order to do a move called a “barrel roll,” which leaves you momentarily invincible to enemy fire.

This would ultimately be a very useful move, if it was as accurate as I needed it to be. Unfortunately, I often found myself trying to use it and finding it responded just a millisecond too slowly for me, and I would get hit rather than evading a bullet. Perhaps it simply needs more practice to master the timing, but overall I wish this button were more sensitive.

It is worth noting, on this point, that Sleepy Jack features three different control schemes. The one mentioned above is the Classic one, but there is also one called Slider that allows you to simply swipe at the screen with your finger to move Jack around and swipe a bit wider for the barrel roll. Personally I had more luck with this set of controls than the Classic set, and barrel rolls were easier. A third option is called Accelerometer and allows you to tilt the phone to move Jack and press buttons on the side for rolling.

Each area offers ten levels, with a boss waiting for you at the end. Each of these levels is well designed and beautifully presented – in fact, the entire game has a whimsical and charming look you will enjoy. Even the music is nice, and if you navigate each level successfully, you’ll be treated to a nice little graphic of Jack sleeping peacefully in his bed nestled in dreams.

There’s definitely replay value here, with a star rating for each level and a nice list of achievements to unlock.  It’s also enabled for use with Openfeint and GameCenter, so you can get your share on in those forums if you so desire.

Sleepy Jack was, overall, a sweet gaming experience that I think other shooter fans would enjoy. I loved the change in perspective from average shooters and the Pixar look of the game’s characters and settings. This particular execution of the formula came off as pretty unique, and I caught myself thinking about how I could improve on certain levels after I completed it. Guess I’m going back for more – which is the best compliment any game can hope to hear.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Matt Curtis

    Jack and the Strange Encounter With LSD

  • app symmetry

    Great to see SilverTree Media get some more attention for this one... after Cordy, I was really thinking that there would be no way that they could come close to the presentation with their next game. But they did... Thanks for posting this!! I hope to see more from STM in the future. =oD

  • Kyle Payne

    definitely see the Gummi Ship influence from Kingdom Hearts 2 in this game! love it already! makes me want KH3 even more Now!!!!

Sleepy Jack Reviewed by Colette Bennett on . Rating: 4