Developer: Ian MacLarty
Price: $3/£3
Size: 37.9 MB
Version: 1.2.5
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Jumpgrid

Games have had us dodging through narrow virtual streets and gobbling up dots since the days of Pac-Man. But Jumpgrid brilliantly updates the grid-running formula for a modern mobile crowd.

If you’re looking for a more up to date reference point, there’s definitely something of Crossy Road in the way you must swipe to cross streams of deadly traffic. It’s just that this particular traffic is way more abstract, and it comes from all directions.

Hop across the nodes, collecting dots

Jumpgrid plays out on a simple 3×3 grid, where you can make your craft hop from node to node with a simple swipe in one of the four cardinal directions. The idea is to collect all of the dots that are stashed across these nodes, before returning to the central exit point.

The trouble is, various shapes and configurations of blocks scroll across the screen at pace, forcing you to dodge out of the way. Thankfully, if you can see an adjacent node, you can teleport to it, even if there’s an object in between you and your target. The grid also wraps around on itself, so – like Pac-Man –you can hop off one side to land on the other.

You can jump off one side to land on the other

This leads to a deft game of virtual hopscotch, as you tiptoe back and forth across the game grid, narrowly avoiding death and an instant restart. Indeed, the way Jumpgrid continually throws you back into the fray when you fail (which you will, many times) is all part of its relentless appeal.

Here is a game that makes it actively tough to break out of its insistent gameplay loop. Not that you’ll want to. With action this slick, aided by a pounding electronic soundtrack and stylishly retro visuals, it’s a joy to keep plugging away.

Each quadrant has its own distinct look and rule twists

Jumpgrid’s levels almost seem to morph as you return to them. Your first runs at particularly tricky levels will essentially resemble those reactions tests where you have to punch the buttons as they light up. Problem-solving skills gradually enter the mix as new types of obstacles and level features manifest themselves across each quadrant.

Repeat runs, however, will call on your pattern recognition and timing skills. There’s even a slight rhythmic element as you commit those gaps to memory and seek to perform your ‘routine’ flawlessly. It’s a breathless dance for the fingers.

Infinite mode asks you to gather dots as quickly as possible

Besides the main mode, you also get an endless mode that rewards quickly getting to each randomly spawning dot, as well as a speedrun mode that’s even more about clinical speed.

There’s an inevitable sense of grind and repetition to Jumpgrid’s gameplay, as there is with every game of this sort. But its levels flow so seamlessly from one to the next, and its core action is so satisfying, that you’ll find yourself tempted back in again and again.

Jumpgrid - Intense dot-gobbling action
A thrillingly relentless merry-go-round of an arcade game
The Good
  • Relentless flow of levels
  • Fluid controls and graphics
  • Constantly shifting gameplay requirements
The Bad
  • Inherently repetitive
  • Gets very tricky very quickly
4.5Overall Score