When I was six or so, I spent my afternoons in the house of a woman named Joan, tagging along with her three kids in an after-school care situation. It was there I got my first introduction to console games, playing things like Paperboy and Jeopardy! on their NES. But my first true love was Super Mario Bros. I wasn't very good, but whenever my turn came around I'd play my little heart out, running across World 1-1, memorizing the jumps, eventually picking up the trickier hops in 1-2, and barrelling through over, and over, and over. Mikey Shorts [$1.99] brings that feeling back like it's brand new.

Now, Mikey Shorts isn't quite as complicated a game as Super Mario Bros. But that transcendent feeling, when you time each jump perfectly and soar past every enemy? It's right here, and it brings me back to the late '80s, piling on Joan's sofa with a bunch of other kids and passing the controller back and forth. If I could just keep playing without dying, I'd get to go a little longer. That mindset makes it awfully hard to put Mikey Shorts back down. Just one more level, please?

Story mode flies by in a flash. I sat down to give the game a look, and bam, 24 levels were under my belt. But that was just finishing the story, taking in the old-school tunes and watching the odd little cutscenes. Everything about Mikey Shorts is a little strange, visually speaking. Thankfully it plays a treat, and there's a lot more to enjoy than just the first time through the tale.

Each story level has three goals: coins, speed, and shorts. Collecting every coin in a level sets one flag, and you'll earn an achievement when you do so in every single level. Each level also has a hidden pair of golden shorts, a great reason to go back and explore meticulously. But speed, speed is where it's at.

There's a star ranking based on how quickly you can make it through. One star is a reasonably good showing. Two stars is not half bad. And three stars requires a run a hand's width short of perfection. You only jump when needed, you never miss a jump or go the wrong way, you hit every statue required to progress on the first try, and the odd little patrolling robots don't get in your way. You can stumble a tiny bit, but you simply cannot fall.

Each checkpoint you barrel through will show you if you're going faster or slower than your best attempt, and that's pretty cool. But head into the options and turn on ghost mode after your first run through. This lets you race another Mikey, Casper-style, and makes succeeding feel a lot like winning. Of course, you're not really winning until you top the leaderboards, a fantastic excuse to keep shaving off milliseconds off your completion time. This is speedrun platforming at its most fun.

After a few levels, Mikey Shorts opens up with a Challenge mode. Instead of timing up, these levels count down, and the timers are tight. This is where the game gets kind of hard, and levels become larger and more complicated. Some are maze-like, others have branching paths you won't have time to explore. No matter the twist, you need to get through very, very quickly. It's a blast.

While the platforming in Mikey Shorts hearkens way, way back, the rest of the game is informed by an obvious love of more modern gaming—iOS gaming in particular. The controls are as flawless as virtual controls get, with just four buttons: left, right, jump and slide. Not flawless for you? Adjust them freely. The Game Center achievements are satisfying, and they provide great rewards: a whole whack of character customizations for little Mikey. If you want to play as Slash in a gas mask, you can do that. If you want to play as the Bearded One himself, there's a pretty good facsimile in there too. You just have to earn (not buy—there's no IAP to be found) the coins and unlock the beard.

The game's look can be a little awkward at first, reminiscent of classic Mario but lacking its style. There's no way I can find to describe the facial expressions of Mikey and the robots that surround him better than "perplexed." It gives the whole game an uncomfortable vibe that's hard to shake. Hard, that is, until you get into the platforming zone and slide, soar and dodge like a kid who's played these levels through thirty times and knows exactly where to go.

There are a lot of reasons to love a game. Great challenge, fun with friends, gorgeous design—all good reasons. Despite its rough edges, Mikey Shorts gets to me because it brings me to a place where I can play and have a great time, without hitting walls, without getting frustrated, without having to pass it on to the next kid in line. It's a good feeling, one I don't particularly want to give up.

So hey, BeaverTap Games. I know you're around here somewhere. More Mikey Shorts, please? You've got me hooked, but I'm not six anymore. There's only so many times I can replay these levels, guys. After the first several dozen hundred times, I swear I'm out.

For another look at Mikey Shorts, check out: TA Plays: 'Mikey Shorts' - A Platformer with Mass Appeal

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarStar
  • Rjamesw

    Several dozen hundred times?

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      Something got messed up with the strikethrough html. I could see why that sounded confusing :)

  • bobcorrigan

    Five stars?  For this?  Come on.

    • http://www.facebook.com/billy.green.9828 Billy Green

      Have you even played it? It's way better than 99% of the junk on the app store. Every once in a while I'll come across a gem like this game and will renew my faith in gaming on my iPhone.

      • bobcorrigan

        Haven't played the game, but I watched the video all the way through.  My opinion stands.  When I compare this game to other 5-star winners, it just doesn't seem to rise to the same standard of "greatness".  This is no Tiny Wings.  It's no Magic 2013.

        That said, I'm sure it's fun.  Just not 5-star fun, IMHO.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MGKMDABPUEAIAYIL5RC6WGE3AY Schuyler

         Your opinion can "stand" all it wants, but if you haven't played the game you're questioning the review of, it doesn't "stand" for very much.

      • bobcorrigan

        Just plunked down my $0.99 so I'd have a leg to stand on.  It's fun.  Not 5-star fun.  So there.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MGKMDABPUEAIAYIL5RC6WGE3AY Schuyler

         Ah! Now, you've played it for 30 seconds. Never mind- your opinion is now fully informed and considered.

      • bobcorrigan

        I can generally tell if I like something in the first minute or so.  It's not my cup of tea.  I'm happy if it's yours.  My kids will probably like it.

      • mikeg1234

        Bob, thanks for buying the game and giving it a try!  We had a few folks in our beta test group that also said the game wasn't their cup of tea.  But they changed their minds after a few days!  But it can't be for everyone, so that is cool.  Definitely let your kids try it out, because kids seem to really like playing the game.

      • bobcorrigan

        Definitely will.  Congrats on getting a game release, hope you make a lot of $ beyond my $0.99.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MGKMDABPUEAIAYIL5RC6WGE3AY Schuyler

        Let's see... which opinion to trust... thorough professional reviewer or guy who grudgingly gives the product a one minute shot after passing judgement without first-hand experience... ?

        Please do us all a favor and always go the extra mile to avoid jury duty.

      • bobcorrigan

        The professional reviewer ended his review with the same sentiment behind my initial comment: "There's only so many times I can replay these levels, guys."

        5-star games bring something special.  This game may, over time, rise to that level.  It's not there yet.

        Now go away Mr. Troll.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MGKMDABPUEAIAYIL5RC6WGE3AY Schuyler

         The sentiment behind your initial comment was, "This game (that I haven't played) is not worthy of the 5 stars you've given it". The sentiment behind the reviewer's comment you cite was, "Give me more of this game!"

        I really don't see how those sentiments are the same, but I guess that's because I am, apparently, a troll.

      • jamespr

        *her

      • Mark Cee

        One person will rate the game different to the other. Usually 5 star is something really really special and original. So it's no surprise there's controversy when something is rated 5 star. And knowing TouchArcade- they are brilliant, but they do occasionally get a little over-excited over a title.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MGKMDABPUEAIAYIL5RC6WGE3AY Schuyler

         All I ask is that anyone who complains about a 5-star review do so only after having played the game for themselves.

      • bobcorrigan

        In fairness, I bought and didn't enjoy Super Crate Box.  Maybe I'm not the target audience for this sort of thing.  

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YYO2NCKWQZ5VMJ4QTY2P7BW2FU bob

        its certainly possible that a game could get five stars and still not be everyones cup of tea...

      • Benjamin Rodriguez

        Exactly. They do have to cater to the casuals as much as the hardcore gamers. I most likely will not ever get this game unless it ever becomes free just because it is not my type of game. No offense to the game at all, I just do not think it would mesh well with me.

      • http://twitter.com/gmordani gayatri mordani

        agree with schuyler....i was in the same boat as u...thinking "oh this is another simple graphic, low cost, supposedly fun one dollar game" and almost didn't buy it...cos i have bought such games with good reviews and been terribly disappointed.....but something made me pick it up...and am glad i did.....now that i have bought it..i love it....theres something very addictive about it....cant pinpoint it for u sorry (thats y am not a reviewer) but the only thing i don't like about it is that the story mode is only 24 levels...i finished it in 15mins flat..... also the first time in history i actually tweeted the developers to make more levels in s.mode....please set aside ur thoughts for once and pick this up....u won't regret it......

      • http://twitter.com/QWERTYtheBold Brandon

        I agree with Billy. I love it a lot. I don't think 5 stars is too much at all.

      • http://www.facebook.com/donald.ronald.754 Donald Ronald

        I doubt he's played it considering his response lacks any substance whatsoever. 

      • bobcorrigan

        See my comments above.

    • jclardy

      To be honest I was a bit wary at first. But it was only 99 cents so I tried it out.

      I have to say, it is pretty much the best game I have played on iOS in a long time. And I own a lot of iOS games.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      You are more than welcome to your opinion, as are we, but you probably could have saved yourself an argument had you just phrased your response less arrogantly. 

      • bobcorrigan

        What can I say, I yam what I yam.

  • lena98765

    My 8 year old asked me "how do you die in this game?" and I realized that you don't. That's so great, it makes the game totally accessible for non-gamers/children, but still challenging for hardcore gamers. I wish that that wasn't so rare.

    • mikeg1234

      And that is exactly what we were going for with Mikey Shorts -- we wanted to make sure it was accessible for all ages.  My 3.5 year old son loves playing the game.  I crack up every time he says "Mikey Shorts", and he has been saying it a lot lately.  My co-partner has a 7 (now 8) year old niece that also loved to play.

  • http://www.facebook.com/donald.ronald.754 Donald Ronald

    I'm one of the most critical guys around and this game is well worth 5 stars.

  • Leonbloo

    I'm with Bob on this one, it's a great game but I reserve 5 stars for a game that blows me out of the water.  This one didn't quite do it for me. 4.5/5 IMO

    • Shaun glitch

      5 star for me and not my usual game type, but there is no game on the planet than can please everyone so there going to be some haters but each to there own :)

  • ANIMALCHOPPINGS

    Great game. Great review. Liked the little bit of personality in there. Nice review Nissa!

  • mikeg1234

    Nissa, thank you for the great review!  You completely blew us away!

  • ducksFANjason

    Lol why is there such a heated debate going on here between whether this deserves 4 or 5 stars? Both are fantastic scores. If I created a game and it got a 4 star review, I'd be stoked!

    • Skuddmuffin

      Same, why cant we all just get along? Its just our opinions :P

    • Benjamin Rodriguez

      Well the difference is more about perfection in every way, and others opinion that it is not perfection in every way.

      To be a 5/5 or 10/10 or w/e in anything, usually means that there is no drawbacks to anything. A 4/5 shows a great game with tons of circumstances that showcase what an amazing game is, with minor drawbacks, but then again that is in my opinion. And reviews are, well duh, based on other peoples opinion, and are not in anyway to be perceived as ALL KNOWING truth/fact, which is the part that most do not understand.

  • jar0d

    Mikeg1234

    Just bought it because of you! Keep up the good work and I hope you'll have a lot of success with the game!

    • mikeg1234

      Great, thanks!  Hope you enjoy playing the game.  And my fingers are crossed that it does well. :-)

  • RunnyGnome

    5 stars?! Whoa, I guess I will be buying this one after all...

  • http://twitter.com/QWERTYtheBold Brandon

    Congratulations on getting featured on the app store!

  • Roland1580

    oh... are you kidding me?

  • choiyi8

    Hey. Lovely little game. I got the first comment in on itunes too, go me! I rarely comment but I downloaded this at around 1am last night just to have a little look and I ended up giving it 2 hours of my evening. Waking up for work this morning was hell, but you can't get a better component than that I think. At first I played it like a typical platformer. And I felt it was nice. But as I tried a few of the levels to get 3 stars it become Aaaaaadictive. Anyway thanks to the Devs for my new iOS fix. Great controls too.

  • The#1

    Question. Will you guys ever do video reviews? That would be cool!

  • paulf58

    Why is this five stars but Manos hand of Fate, a fun and stylized platformer, is panned? I'm confused.

    • http://www.facebook.com/donald.ronald.754 Donald Ronald

      Really? Because Manos has terrible controls and terrible hit detection. That's a no brainer. This has flawless controls and a flawless hit box. 

      Next?

  • gjesse

    I just love this game. Good work, 5 stars :)

  • 1@N

    This isn't my type of game, but I thought id give it a try because of all the praise. I'm so glad I did. It's a great platformer and super addictive! And only 99c with no IAP!! Great job guys!

    • mikeg1234

      Thank you (and everyone else here that has bought the game)!!  This seems to be a very common thing where people aren't sure about the game until they decide to buy it and try it out.  Then they usually come to really like it.  My wife was the same way.  She didn't play the game for a long time until she had to fly for a business trip.  After playing the whole trip she finally saw what the game was about. :-)  So I hope people continue to give Mikey Shorts a try!

  • Hugues-E. Moisan-Plante

    The game didn't look that amazing to me but I bought it and I am loving it. Thank you for a platformer with great controls and collision detection. The other reasons it plays better/easier than Manos is that it has no enemies and no shooting mechanic. Manos has great atmosphere though! Oh, for the record, this looks alot more Alex Kidd than Super Mario Bros.

  • MoHeyNow

    Hehe "But head..."

  • lancheta

    I can appreciate the game for what it's worth. Obsessed at making it up the leaderboards, I've been playing it for the passed hour and enjoying it severely.

  • ThreeDEF

    I may be missing some technique. I'm doing what I feel to be perfect and I am about .4 seconds off the top time in 1-1 and 1-2

  • ThreeDEF

    Would there be a way to add a ghost of the best time?

    • mikeg1234

      There is a ghost of your personal best time if that is what you are asking for.  You can turn the ghost (or line) on in the Options menu.  But if you are asking if there is a ghost for the #1 global leader, then no, there is no way to watch a ghost of the fastest run that isn't yours.

      I hope that makes sense, and let me know if it doesn't.

  • JoelSixPack

    Hi Mikeg1234

    Great game, I'm loving it alot so far! It reminds me of Mos Speedrun (which is one of my favorite iOS games), but it definitely has its own identity.

    I'm not sure how many other people out there actually care about this, but I was very very happy to see that you guys left out IAPs. It makes the game seem more "pure" to me, and makes collecting coins seem more meaningful since I know I have to earn each and every coin that goes towards buying shop items. The only downside is that I wish I could give you guys more than $0.99 for all your hard work, but I'll definitely be recommending the game to others.

    Do you have any plans to add iCloud support in a future update? I've enjoyed playing this on both my iPod and iPad and it would be awesome if I could share the same save file on both devices.

    • mikeg1234

      Thanks, JoelSixPack!  I'm glad that you are loving the game.  It has been great to see such a positive reaction towards the game.

      Yes, we do have plans to iCloud support.  That is one of the things we'd like to get into an update.

      • JoelSixPack

         Cool, thanks for the information on iCloud. I will look forward to hopefully seeing that in an update down the road.

        Also, I was thinking last night that it would be cool if you guys added a gift icon on the title screen. I think personally I would gift it to a few people. I'm not joking, I seriously feel like I'm kinda ripping you guys off by only paying a dollar!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kamil.malinski Kamil Malinski

    does it support the iCade and/or the iControlPad?

    • mikeg1234

      We don't currently support either of those.  Though we have plans to look at adding various controller support in an update.  If I can get my hands on an iCade, then I definitely want to add that.  Joypad is another.  I hadn't seen that iControlPad before, but that does look cool!

      • http://www.facebook.com/kamil.malinski Kamil Malinski

        great, thanks for the quick reply!

        as far as I know it's pretty easy to implement iCade Controls, since the iCade is basically nothing else than a bluetooth keyboard

        since the iControlPad has an icade-compatiblity-mode you would cover this controller as well when supporting the iCade

      • Ariectus

        If you're jailbroken just use blutrol with the icontrolpad, it works amazingly well, you just map the buttons to the touchscreen controls and away you go.

  • RS200

    I really adore this little gem. Has so much reply value but most importantly pinpoint controls .... Will never be deleted for sure .... Well done devs!

  • LOLavi

    Just because you don't enjoy the game, it doesn't mean it can't be a 5-star game in its genre :) I personally am not a huge fan of competing with times on Mos Speedrun, but I love it here! 5-stars from me too!

  • http://twitter.com/schamspeare schamspeare

    You've got this game wrong. I assume the five stars were in the review before the game was.

    The levels in this game are monotonously long, indistinguishable from one another, and completely featureless. Who cares if there are hundreds of them if they offer no challenge and have no character.

    I thought Touch Arcade was a little bit better than the other iOS review sites, but it's just like the rest – every review is favorable. And with so many games going through the review mill, it all comes out as mush.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Spoilers: We generally only post favorable reviews because people come to TouchArcade to find cool games to play not shitty games to avoid.

      • http://twitter.com/schamspeare schamspeare

        You made an exception in this case (out of kindness?). And – someone should break it to you – you actually review a lot of shitty games, and they get upwards of 3.5 stars.

        Have you considered abandoning the star-rating system altogether? You review a lot of games, and they vary quite a bit in quality if not in the ratings they're given. People might start looking elsewhere for distinctions between 4-star 'meh' and 5-star 'better' or 5-star 'friendship prize' – that's what this one got, right? To me, that's all your ratings mean. This review seals it.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        I think this game is awesome. It's OK to disagree. Reviews are opinions, after all.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        I would give this game ten stars if I could. The fact that it's forum members had nothing to do with the rating at all, it was just an interesting side story. In fact there's been plenty of people from the forums who have made games that we skipped because the weren't very good, or others that just got so-so scores. This game is exceptional in every way no matter who made it and deserves every bit of its five stars.

    • JosephmWood

      You've got to be kidding me! This game is amazing! 1 minute qualifies as monotonously long? Wow, can't imagine the types of games you play that last for 10-15 seconds. This game is amazing and deserves all the praise.

  • GregB

    Just posted a 5-star iTunes review. This is the platformer I have been waiting for! And universal with no IAP for $.99?!?

  • http://www.facebook.com/catalin918 Catalin Meow

    We are trying so hard to get some attention to our game Balloon Loons and we haven't been able to get anyone to look our way. Sent out emails, created posts here, raised our hands, jumped in our seats....etc.

    At least a game like Mikey Shorts gives us some hope that the review guys aren't just busy with the big boys. But maybe it does pay to actually know someone as well (as stated this was a group of guys from the toucharcade forum that made this). I am neither a big company nor do I really know anyone from the forum other than the handful of very nice people I met here.

    I have to say though that if Mikey Shorts deserves a 5 star review then please take a look at Balloon Loons as well you guys!
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/catalin918 Catalin Meow

    We are trying so hard to get some attention to our game Balloon Loons and we haven't been able to get anyone to look our way. Sent out emails, created posts here, raised our hands, jumped in our seats....etc.

    At least a game like Mikey Shorts gives us some hope that the review guys aren't just busy with the big boys. But maybe it does pay to actually know someone as well (as stated this was a group of guys from the toucharcade forum that made this). I am neither a big company nor do I really know anyone from the forum other than the handful of very nice people I met here.

    I have to say though that if Mikey Shorts deserves a 5 star review then please take a look at Balloon Loons as well you guys!
     

  • JCman7

    Let's see there are two maybe three people saying it doesn't deserve five stars then there's like 50 people here and on the forums that says it deserves 5 stars.... This game is well deserving of the 5 star rating!

  • http://www.games.99k.org/ games

    this a very fun jump n run platform game i think

  • QbAnYtO

    I would like to know if u have plans on making a multiplayer option like super Mario bros wii. That would make this game so fun. Any plans on that?

  • cartoonlion

    I've been watching the frenzy whipped up around this game, decided to give it a go and am baffled at the 5 star score. I have no issue with the simple graphics, but the gameplay is somewhat limited. Wind Up Knight is a better example of gameplay building over the course of the levels, it's free and there's a great sense of peril - Mikey Shorts' safe game world is probably great for young kids. 5 stars? Money has changed hands or somebody is returning a favour! 3.5 stars.

  • WuzAPPenin

    Why do people feel the need to ruin other people from downloading because they didn't like the 30 seconds they played it? It's .99¢ people, lets see how much work you put into your job for .30¢ on the dollar. This is an awesome game for .99¢!

Mikey Shorts Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 5