Sometimes I seriously question what it going through the minds of game developers when they name a game. Bulkypix’s Fruity Jelly [99¢], for instance, has a name that makes it sound like a hyper-casual, made-for-kids, physics game. It doesn’t really describe the game, nor does it make me want to play it. Or even look at it. Amazingly, it overcomes that problem by provided a surprisingly solid puzzle-platformer.
Despite it’s horribly adorable appearance and its almost offensively terrible name — Fruity Jelly is an incredibly smart puzzle game with a crafty mechanic that will break your brain on more than a few occasions. At a glance, I was turned off by nearly everything about Fruity Jelly, but even though it looks like another generic, cute iOS game with a dumb title, it manages to impress almost immediately with its mechanics and its puzzles.
The principal mechanic of Fruit Jelly is similar to GravBot in a lot of ways and has you rotating the screen around to move your character through a series of increasingly difficult obstacles. You can also move let or right by either tilting the device or by using an on-screen slider, but the bulk of the puzzles are built for flipping the environment around.
At first, this is easy enough and you’ll cruise through the first half of the first world without problems. But as you move along, everything begins to get more complicated and you have to start planning out your route ahead of time. By the final sections of the game, you’ll have to not only create a complex route, but also a means to get there quickly and without hitting any of the deadly obstacles.
For the most part, the controls hold up regardless of whether you’re tilting or using the slider, however there are a few precision based sections that feel impossible and more based on a lucky roll than a keen attention to detail. Your character moves a little too loosely at times and it’s difficult to land exactly where you need to. For the most part, this isn’t a big deal, by the very nature of the game’s rotation mechanics, you don’t have to take direct control very often.
There are a couple gesture and other odd-ball things worked in the game throughout. You need to tap boxes to destroy them and swipe down to get sucked through a tiny hole. They’re more obnoxious than they are challenging and they take your eyes and hands off of the real task at hand, which is getting all of the fruit.
You can’t finish a level until you capture all the fruit. Along the way you’ll also come across stars, which if you collect all of them in a section, you’ll get to head off to a bonus level. The fruit can be tricky to locate sometimes, as the later levels become increasingly complex mazes where if you miss something at the beginning, you need to start over again.
That’s part of Fruity Jelly’s appeal and its frustration, there is little-to-no room for mistake or improvisation, you need to plan on finishing the level in one way and one way only. There are a few exceptions here and there, but the bulk of the game rewards careful planning more than blindly rolling around.
It’s also a universal app and as you’d expect, is a bit easier to play on an iPad because you get a larger screen. That said, tilt controls work significantly better on smaller devices. Either way, you can double-tap the screen to pause the game and look around the entire map at any time, so regardless of screen size you’ll always have a clear idea of what you’re doing. The whole thing is cute times a million, so be prepared for adorability overload with bright colors and smiling flowers.
Fruity Jelly is a solid puzzle-platformer that utilizes its mechanic to great effect creating a challenging game that’s easy to pick up. It could have stood to have slightly tighter controls, but its easy to ignore for a bulk of the game.