When people argued iPhone gaming was on the up, this release took that literally
Many games merely make up the numbers. A precious few become part of history. In the first entry in our series on classic iPhone games, we take a look at a title that took casual gaming to new heights.
What was Doodle Jump?
Development studio Lima Sky was founded shortly after the App Store’s arrival, by two brothers aiming to capitalize on this new opportunity for indie game developers. Having found a measure of success with a couple of basic titles, the duo set about creating a simple platformer featuring a leaping bunny.
During development, the protagonist was transformed into a far more memorable oddball four-legged alien, tasked with bouncing ever upward on a diminishing number of platforms – until you inevitably miss one, thereby ending the game.
Why was it a classic?
Prior to the iPhone, mobile games tended to be fiddly. Doodle Jump used the iPhone’s accelerometer to make something that simultaneously felt fresh, familiar and fluid. Instead of using clunky buttons to move your character, you just tilted your phone. It was simple to learn but tough to master.
Smartly, Doodle Jump also moved beyond the bare basics. A tap-based shooting mechanic was included for players to blast enemies. In-game distance markers gave everyone the opportunity to spot and beat their friends’ scores. And regular updates with new power-ups, obstacles and themes kept people coming back rather than moving on to the next big thing.
Where is it now?
Doodle Jump was a big hit, to the degree its leaping protagonist made cameo appearances in other games. Although the title’s star subsequently faded, updates have continued to the present day, and the game arguably works better on today’s taller iPhones than on their relatively squat forebears.
Lima Sky, inevitably, also eventually released a sequel – although not until 2020. By that time, the iPhone gaming ecosystem had moved on. Doodle Jump, though, didn’t take a massive leap forward: the second game in the series isn’t much different from the first, merely adding new themes and a somewhat obnoxious unlock system. In this case, then, jump at the chance to play the original.