Sometimes, old school gamers just want to kick back and relax with a retro platformer. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it's tough to find a really great control scheme barring a controller option, as precision is often synonymous with the platforming genre. While it may not employ the perfect solution, Foxtrot! [$0.99] does a great job of keeping the old school spirit alive.
The first thing you'll notice about Foxtrot is that it taps into the retro charm of old, but it has its own unique design to set it apart from the rest of the pack. The game features Neville the fox, on his humble quest to supply his hungry cubs with eggs to eat. To accomplish that task, you'll hop through a series of 2D planes, fight enemies, and solve some fairly simple puzzles. Through a series of doors you'll embark upon room after room, each with their own trials and tribulations to best.
Right out of the gate however, the control scheme may turn you off. To move left, you'll touch the left side of the screen -- and the same goes for the right. It's simple enough, but when you added in the fact that you have to press both to jump, things start to get a little more dicey. The controls are also pretty sensitive, so you may find yourself running off a cliff or into a bed of spikes by accident until you pick them up.
It doesn't help that when you attempt to jump but press just to the left or right of where you need to, sometimes Neville will refuse to leap and run off a cliff. It's possible to adapt eventually, but a variety of control options would have been ideal for players who can't get used to the only scheme on the table.
Having said that, the level designs are superb. You'll battle your way through a variety of enemies with different tactics, as you attempt to navigate narrow ceilings, dodge traps, and locate tons of hidden secrets. Nothing ever really feels "cheap," since you can see everything at once and ready your plan of attack.
There's something here for every fan of the genre, and the overall designs of each room remind me of Terry Cavanaugh's VVVVVV, in that each one serves up a new concept and otherwise feels isolated as its own challenge. There's a ton of content in Foxtrot should you acclimate yourself to the scheme, with 30 levels and the ability to speedrun them for a top score.
It helps that the visuals and music both come together perfectly, and despite the fact that there might be some issues actually controlling Neville, the world around him is well animated and sharp, much like the Commander Keen series of old. The 8-bit backgrounds and the clearer foreground also go very well together.
With full controller support, Foxtrot would be an instant recommendation for platformer fans. It's simple to pick up, the level designs are interesting, and the visuals have a ton of charm despite their retro veneer. If you can deal with some added difficulty as a result of touch controls though, add this to your collection.
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