Tobe & Friends Hookshot Escape ($1.99) by Secret Base Pte Ltd is a spinoff of the popular Steam release Tobe’s Vertical Adventure. The game is an endless vertical platformer that’s reminiscent of a retro-style arcade game.
The goal is to get as high as possible while gathering as much treasure as possible, for the highest score. To climb upwards, you will need to use the hookshot tool, which grabs onto rocks and sends the main character, Tobe, rocketing upwards.
Tobe is controlled with on-screen buttons. Left and right are on the left hand side of the screen, and the jump (A) button is on the right side. Tapping the A button once executes a jump, and tapping it twice activates the hookshot ability. This game is played in portrait mode, which mades the controls feel very cramped.
I have small hands and little (skinny) fingers, but I continually had trouble hitting the proper arrow to move side to side, and I imagine it will be an even more frustrating game element for those of you with larger hands.
As you leap from platform to platform, you will collect diamonds and treasure chests, each of which add to your score. You’ll also get a score increase for every meter that you traverse, plus extra points for squishing enemies.
Since this is an endless game, there are no levels. You will play the in the same area until you earn enough points and get far enough along to unlock new areas.
Platforms are randomly generated each time you play, so every game feels fresh. You’ll also notice that platforms are spread out in a way that makes advancement a tricky prospect, so you’ll need to plan your jumps both carefully and quickly.
If you’re too slow, the moving screen will catch up to you, and if your character falls to the bottom, it’s game over. Running off of the left side of the screen will transport you to the right side, and vice versa.
While jumping, you will need to watch out for spikes, dissolving blocks, and monsters. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for power ups, which can be used to rocket you upwards in a tight spot (the star), wipe out enemies (bomb), or stop time to give you a bit of breathing room (freeze).
I thought money earned would be used to purchase equipment, but equipment is actually unlocked with game advancements. For example, getting hit by an enemy 30 times unlocks a shield, while stomping on 12 monsters unlocks a mustache.
In addition to unlocking equipment, advancing through the game also unlocks other characters. Other characters, like Nana, don’t use the hookshot, and instead have their own unique weapons and jumping characteristics. Tobe can’t jump, so he needs the hookshot, but Nana has a high jump, and instead of a grappling hook, she comes equipped with a block-breaking hammer, which makes it easier to get from platform to platform.
Each character has a different combo bonus. Tobe will execute combos through repeated use of the hookshot, while Nana’s combo bonus comes from gathering gems. In total, there are four themes, four characters, 20 unlockable items (plus 12 extra available as in-app purchases), five leaderboards, and 26 achievements.
Aside from the control issues, this is a fun and challenging game with plenty of content. If you’re a fan of vertical platformers or a fan of retro gaming, you’ll definitely want to give Hookshot Escape a go.