The story behind Little Acorns [99¢] is simple yet adorable. You're the highly fashionable patriarch of an industrious squirrel clan and one day, you and your family unit return home to the scene of a crime. For reasons unknown, a giggly, malevolent trope of woodland critters have made off with your stash of acorns. Can you guess what happens next? If you said that this is where you run, swing, slide and generally platform your way to the return of your stolen goods, you would be absolutely right. Personally, however, I would have just cut my losses and moved my family to an environment not infested with insects twice as big as my kids, but that's just me.
Though hardly the most original platformer to have hit the App Store, Little Acorns is almost surprisingly well done. The virtual controls are easy to grasp and beautifully responsive. Mid-flight adjustments? Not a problem. Your buck-toothed protagonist will happily comply. The levels are also rather well done and highly varied. Short enough to fit into those 'I have five minutes before my date arrives and I have nothing better to do' moments, and a vast majority of the levels aren't too difficult.
Fortunately, however, there's a decent amount of replay value. After collecting every acorn in the stage, you'll have the chance to pick up five fruits in order to unlock a new cosmetic item for your squirrel. Prefer something even more challenging? Try doing all that within the speed run time limit. Have we mentioned that some stages will also have you trying to corral a number of rambunctious and highly mobile squirrel kids? Because there's that, too.
What I like most about Little Acorns, however, is the pacing. Team Pesky has this bit down to an art form. Whenever the gameplay starts feeling remotely repetitive, something new is thrown at you. At times, this 'something new' can be as simple as a new enemy and at others, as complex as a new gameplay mechanic. But no matter how you cut it, Little Acorns is excellent at keeping the experience pine-fresh. (To be fair, this sort of peters out towards the latter chapters, but Team Pesky did an excellent job with this for most of the game.)
Of course, it helps that the aesthetics are more than just modestly palatable. Backed by a funky, toe-tapping soundtrack, Little Acorns has the look and feel of a Saturday morning cartoon. There is no violent content here. When you stumble into enemies, you get momentarily poisoned and have your speed reduced. If you make the mistake of tumbling into a ravine, you're treated to a picture of your bushy-tailed family looking rather sad. That's about it. Little Acorns is about as child-safe as any application can get.
Overall, Little Acorns is what you might call a safe bet. While not the kind of game that will eat away hours of your time before you realize what's going on or the sort that would be branded as revolutionary, Little Acorns is the sort of title you'll find yourself constantly going back to, the kind of game that fits too easily into a spare five minutes. In short, pick it up if you have an appetite for well-executed and adorable 2D platformers.
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