Swedish iPhone developer Acne Play released their second game on the App Store today. With fantastic art similar to their other title, Comet [99¢], Pizza Boy [$1.99] is a platformer with some of the best controls I’ve seen in the genre. The story is ridiculous as expected, told through fantastic comic book style sequences that explain that an evil bird has stolen your pizza– of course you need to get it back. Unfortunately, between you and your beloved pizza pie are all kinds of obstacles, enemies, pits, trampolines, and everything else a good platformer needs.
Pizza Boy’s graphics are highly reminiscent of excellent platformers of the 16 bit era with some perfectly paired chiptune music to go along with them. (They even put the whole soundtrack up online to listen to.) The game is host to all the gameplay mechanics required for a good platformer, with an odd culinary twist. Instead of collecting coins you pick up strawberries, and 100 strawberries award an extra life. Instead of tossing fireballs you throw soda bottles which are available in a limited quantity from soda machines that you stomp on. In addition, you can collect letters to form the word “pizza," and you can even rescue cats on each level for bonus points.
Where Pizza Boy really shines is in the control department. Pizza Boy’s iTunes description mentions something Acne Play is calling the “Smart Touch System," which I’d normally write off as just a gimmick, but the controls are just fantastic. I’m not sure how much magic is in the Smart Touch System but while playing Pizza Boy I never ran in to issues I usually have with platformers on the iPhone such as missing buttons, sliding my finger off the D-Pad, and other fat fingerings that often result in death.
What kills me about Pizza Boy is how little content there is in the game. The developers even went as far as to say in the iTunes description that it would only take a half hour to play through. They later clarified this via email by saying that it was a guesstimate for how long it would take an experienced player, and it took me close to 45 minutes. The worst part about all this is that Pizza Boy is great, and the entire game really leaves you wanting more. The only online scoring there is in the game is the ability to brag via Facebook or Twitter, which pains me even further because a short score-centric game like this could have a decent amount of replay value injected in to it with some form of online leaderboard.
Pizza Boy really reminds me a lot of the recently released physics puzzler No, Human which also was over before you knew it, leaving you wanting much more. Just like No, Human, if you decide to give Pizza Boy a try you’ll be rewarded with an awesome platformer, but the credits roll just as you really start to get in to it.