If you had a robot suit, what is the first thing you would do with it? If your answer is "jump around in small, contained rooms packed with things that can kill you with the slightest touch", have I got a game for you right here. Suited Up [$1.99] is one of those games that boils down to one simple mechanic, with levels built to progressively test your mastery of that mechanic. As is often the case with this kind of game, it starts to get a bit old before the levels run out, but Suited Up has an ace up its sleeve that extends the fun, provided you're on-board with the core jumping gameplay.
In Suited Up, you control a person in a robot suit with a giant rocket attached to it. Your goal in each stage is to reach the exit, but you've got a giant rocket stuck on your back, so you can't exactly walk there. Instead, you have to make a series of jumps, one at a time, to get where you want to go. You're graded on how long it takes you to make it to the exit, along with how many jumps you use. That's all there is to it initially, but the levels are soon populated with all kinds of deadly hazards, requiring you to plan your jumps carefully and, often, quickly. The initial game includes 40 levels, and simply clearing them is a serious challenge, let alone obtaining the best grade.
The game can be played in portrait mode or landscape, though not all levels can be easily cleared just by sticking to one orientation thanks to how the controls work. All you can do is jump, and to jump, you touch where you want to jump to. You can touch anywhere above your character, but although it might sound easy, it's not. See, you can only jump above where you are presently standing, and while you can tap where you want to jump to, there's often a descent after reaching that point, something you have no control over. You need to really think about where your jump is going to end up leaving you, something that isn't always easy in larger, more complicated levels. This is where the orientation problem comes in. Sometimes, the place you need to be tapping to get where you want to be isn't visible due to the way you're holding your device. I appreciate that the game allows players a choice, but it's extremely odd that not all of the levels are balanced around that choice.
Suited Up starts demanding precision fairly early on, forcing you to learn how your jumps work down to the square. Even before the hazards come to play, there's still the risk of falling off-screen, which also kills you. The introduction of cannons that launch deadly shots at regular intervals puts an additional timing-based pressure on your shoulders. You have to move fast, but you also have to be careful about where you're jumping to, and you have to do all of that without always knowing what lies ahead since, as far as I can tell, you can't actually peek around the level to see the layout. Suited Up is very hard, there's no question of that. If you thrive on games that do their best to break you, you're going to have a great time banging your body against the walls here. If that's not you, this game is probably going to be a lot less enjoyable. Personally, though I wish I could look around the levels so that I could find out what's coming or at least where the exit is, I did enjoy reaching the level of mastery the game demands.
Wisely, the game offers some tangible rewards for good performance. In addition to an assortment of Game Center achievements, there's also a list of achievements in the game itself, with a brand new suit being offered up as a reward. Granted, it's just a palette-swap, but who doesn't like having a wide selection of colors for their battlesuits? I mean, look at Tony Stark. That guy's on something like Mark 8,657 by now. However small a prize it may be, it feels good to get something for pulling off a difficult task.
So, maybe you like the jumping thing, but you don't like the level design for whatever reason. Well, why don't you just go make your own? No, really, go ahead. Suited Up has a really nice level editor in it, and not only can you make your own levels and play them, but you can also upload them to the vast collection of tubes we call the Internet so that others can see your skill. Naturally, you can also download other people's levels yourself, so even if you're not creatively inclined, you can benefit from the inclusion of this feature. It's actually really easy to use the level editor, keeping things fairly straightforward while also giving you a decent amount of versatility. It ends up being something of a saving grace for this game, since it gives you something to do in the likely event that you get stuck on one of the game's prebuilt levels and want something else to do.
The game has a nice, detailed, colorful look to it, with some decent music and sound effects to round out the presentation. The main menu's a bit of a confusing mess since it tries to do something interesting but forgets to clearly label things along the way, but apart from that, the UI works well. I also like how the game shows a ghost of your last run, which can potentially help you gauge a better path, or least one that will result in you being less dead. I would have liked a bit more variety in the visuals overall, but at the very least, what's here works well and doesn't interfere with the game's mechanics.
Ultimately, it all comes back to that jumping mechanic, though. It's fun to play with, and the level designs certainly test it in cool ways, but I just don't think that element is enough to prop the game up on its own. If you enjoy a tough challenge built around a relatively simple gameplay technique, Suited Up offers you a good amount of well-designed content with the potential for a lot more, but I think a lot of players are going to get their fill pretty quickly. If you get into the level editing end of things, the game has considerably more appeal, especially if you hook up with some friends and challenge each other on levels you make. If you're looking for people to play with, make sure to drop by the thread on our forums to share ideas with the community and compete on each other's designs.
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