Tripper Mission: Catch A Hope by Playful Interactive icon

Tripper Mission: Catch A Hope (Free) by Playful Interactive is stuck somewhere between side-scrolling powerhouses like “Cordy,” and monster-based action titles like the “Pokemon” series.

The game comes with a unique narrative, fun art style, and enough ball-tossing puzzles to satisfy even the most hardcore of iPad strategy fans.

Tripper Mission: Catch A Hope by Playful Interactive screenshot

Tripper Mission: Catch A Hope is set in the cutest dystopian future you have ever seen. It’s the year 2400, aliens have invaded Earth, stealing all the adults’ hopes and dreams, rendering them inert and easily conquered. Thankfully, the children of the world are left unaffected, and two siblings have volunteered to take on the alien home world and retrieve mankind’s initiative.

Don’t let the cutesy plot throw you off, though. Tripper Mission: Catch A Hope is a very challenging app for the iPad, and comes with enough content to keep even the most wonder-less of adults entertained for quite a while.

The game has players solving various physics-based puzzles to collect “illusions,” or sources of inspiration. To complete the various challenges, users will need to lob alien allies at certain obstacles to trigger new events. Usually puzzles are arranged in large, block-based labyrinths that require expert aim and a lot of patience to complete.

Along the way, players accumulate various extraterrestrial friends, each with their own special powers and trajectory styles. For example, the first acquired alien fires along a curved path, allowing for more precise puzzle solving, while the second alien is a straight-shooter with a knack for destroying things.

Tripper Mission: Catch A Hope by Playful Interactive screenshot

It’s a fun concept, and one that comes with lots of time-consuming hard work. Each level contains a set number of illusion orbs, as well, which can be nearly impossible to collect without leaving out a few.

The graphics, it’s worth noting, are particularly good. The side-scrolling environments are lush while the sprite animations are top-notch. I particularly enjoyed the quirky character design. Another great feature of the app is its excellent physics engine — lobbing aliens where I wanted them worked fluidly, and reminded me of the slingshot in Angry Birds.

However, I would have liked to see Game Center integration. Tripper Mission: Catch A Hope is a fun title with lots of replay value, but adding achievements just creates one more incentive to complete each level with every orb scored. I also would have appreciated more levels, as the game currently only sports 18 of them spread across three worlds.

The price is certainly right, though, as Tripper Mission: Catch A Hope is free in the App Store. If you’re a fan of physics puzzlers, or of cute and quirky titles for the iPad, the game has more than enough flair to tickle your fancy. Otherwise, it won’t cost a dime to give the app a test drive.