Shadow Love [$0.99] is exactly the kind of game you'd expect from a developer named Strawberry Gohan (Japanese for "rice," in this instance). This familiar-feeling platformer transforms into something visually and mechanically enchanting, as a world of hand shadow puppets comes alive. Sharing many of the hand shadow puppet enemies and interactive backgrounds in detail would spoil the fun, but the appearances of a four-armed shuriken and finger-firing bosses should coax you to try another stage.
Shadow Love begins as a simple sidescrolling, head-stomping platformer and later adds punching and flying abilities along with auto-scrolling (a la Canabalt) and vertical climbing stages. At the end of each five stages, you fight increasingly challenging bosses, but none of them felt as difficult as the stages themselves. After beating the 30 levels of the main game, a "light" mode opens up with tougher stages.
The shadow puppet visuals and their implementation were so charming that I overlooked the virtual buttons and repetitious music. Shadow Love received similar great praise in the Touch Arcade forums for its visuals during its quiet summer release. The developer recently made the game free, and now it has the chance of reaching a much larger audience.
In my test play, Shadow Love's screen had black bars on the side to suggest it is not iPhone 5 optimized, but it still looked and worked well on the new device. In the end, how often do you get a solid platformer (or any type of game) with cleverly implemented shadow puppets? Exactly.