A wooly jumper for your iPhone
This is the second time in as many weeks I’ve been asked to do a review of a game with the word ‘Up’ in the title. Seven days ago it was small Chinese men, this week it’s all about mutton dressed as lamb. Am I being typecast? I’ll have you know I’m very versatile; for the record I can also write reviews about games featuring the word ‘Down’. Don’t pigeonhole me.
Apologies if you thought this was going to be about a new accessory for your phone, but Sheep Up is actually a 3D vertical platformer from Bad Seed. That is to say, the developers are called Bad Seed, not that the game came from a rubbish lineage. You’re a toy sheep stuck in a cardboard box with a bunch of other playthings, and your goal is to escape by jumping upward onto platforms to your freedom. Where you’ll presumably be picked up off the floor by a eight year old and chucked in the bin because there’s a reason you were packed away in the first place.
On your travels, you’ll meet various challenges that block your path: other toys who don’t want you to escape (the term ‘crabs in a bucket’ springs to mind), keys to unlock new platforms, gaps to jump and disintegrating panels. Just how big is this box anyway?
You move around using tilt controls. One immediate problem I had with this was that it took me ages to figure out how to move the sheep towards me. Which, I might add, is not something I struggle with in real life, as sheep stop to talk to me all the time. You can customise the game so you can play in either portrait or landscape view, and adjust the sensitivity to suit, which are thoughtful inclusions.
Your sheep never stops bouncing, which I disliked. Quite ironic I suppose, as the whole draw of the game is the fact that the sheep bounces. It’s just that sometimes on approaching a particularly tricky looking level, you might want to stop trampolining for a second to plan your strategy or time a jump, but the game never gives you the opportunity to do so.
It’s a fully retina supported title, which is always welcome, but I can’t shake the feeling that hand drawn, cartoon style graphics would’ve suited it better. Perhaps it’s just me. Isn’t it always just me? It also, as we know, takes place entirely in a cardboard box. The problem is there’s only so much much box the eyes can take before they start to wonder. Variety isn’t a really selling point here. Perhaps they should’ve included a bonus level where the sheep gets out the box, grabs a gun and goes into space to shoot aliens in the stomach. Then they could’ve called it ‘Sheep Outside the Box’.
The music, which is a bit too Tellytubbies for my liking, fails the Kevin Moore Irritation Test ™ which is my empirical method of deciding how good or bad a game’s soundtrack is. Namely, if my Wife tells me to ‘Turn that bloody racket off’ within five minutes of me booting up the app, I know it’s a duffer.
Its a cute enough game, and will keep you entertained for a while. But when your Wife tells you to put away your phone because its time for dinner, then proceeds to serve up lamb chops with chilli sauce, you’ll realise what sheep are really good for.
Sheep Up! $0.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod