This guy really does love his strawberries… perhaps a bit too much…
I really do love strawberries. I would placed them firmly in the top three of my Top 10 Fruit List. What, you don’t have such a list? Tsk tsk! Did you know that strawberries are high in vitamin C? Did you know that they taste good in chocolate? These are some of the important strawberry facts I learned while playing Atari’s delightful new iOS platformer.
You play as Box Boy, who is probably one of the cutest and most entertaining characters I’ve seen in an iOS game. Using a single finger, you can tap and drag anywhere on the screen; this allows you to both aim where you want Box Boy to jump, and choose how much power his jump will use. This is shown by Box Boy filling up with red, as if he’s getting angry. To be honest, the noise Box Boy makes sounds more like he’s having trouble on the toilet, but that just adds to his great grunting face! When you let go of your finger, Box Boy will hurl himself in whatever direction you chose, at whatever speed you indicated. He can bounce off walls and other objects, and will slide and react to gravity and physics as you would expect. Be careful where you aim, because one bad step can send you bouncing all the way back to the beginning of the level! I found this frustrating until I realized that you can tap a checkpoint flag to return to the last checkpoint you unlocked.
As you’re progressing toward your destination there are tiny strawberries you can collect to improve your score, which is measured by bronze, silver, and gold statues on the score screen. As you jump, land, die, and ultimately gain your tasty (and healthy!) prize, Box Boy makes some of the most adorable, hilarious, and heart-wrenching faces you’ll ever see. The face in the title image, known on the internet as the “Troll Face“, is one of a seemingly endless amount of expressions you’ll exprrience as you play the game. Some of the death faces and sounds made me feel absolutely horrible as poor Box Boy was impaled on spikes, melted in lava, or any other various life-ending situations. Others actually made me laugh, as many are references to other online memes or common emoticons. You actually gain achievements for getting some of these faces in specific situations. It’s pretty much random, but something fun to look forward to, along with the rest of the achievements.
I Love Strawberries looks and sounds great on the iPhone. There is a unique music track for each set of levels, and the colorful painted backgrounds work well with the 8-bit-styled art in the foreground. Don’t let it’s cute looks fool you though, ILS is an extremely challenging game at times, particularly in the last couple worlds. After progressing through the game from one level to the next, I was surprised to go back to the first world and find several levels I hadn’t beaten yet. I then realized that after you unlock a new world, the previous world opens up three bonus levels that are pretty damn hard. I imagine that during a casual playthrough, you could “complete” all five sets of 9 levels in a couple hours. However, to master all the levels (with the bonus levels) and earn a gold trophy on each one, you will need to spend a lot more time strategizing and planning your way through them. Sometimes this requires finding a balance between hitting the “par” number of jumps for a level and collecting all of the strawberries – you don’t need to do both to always earn a gold trophy! Between this and the achievements, there is plenty in ILS to keep you playing for quite some time, not to mention the free updates containing new levels.
The list of Atari games on the app store is a short one, comprised mainly of unimpressive remakes of their classic arcade hits. I Love Strawberries comes in stark contrast to those games, as it is just as unique as it is adorable. (Granted, Atari was just the publisher, as the game was developed by Coffee Stain Studios) I had a lot of fun watching Box Boy’s facial reactions to various situations while doing my best to complete each level in as few jumps as possible. Like most good platforming games, there are certainly frustrating moments, and ILS is no walk in the park, but the cuteness and fun gameplay will shine through those moments. Even if you’re not usually a fan of platformers, it’s hard not to be charmed by I Love Strawberries, and the experience is well worth the $1 price tag for new and old gamers alike – especially considering that Atari released a bunch of new levels and facial expressions in a recent update for free. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to run out to grab a basket of strawberries. I’m suddenly craving them for some reason.