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Review: Suzy Cube – a bouncy 3D platformer

Developer: NorthernBytes
Price: $4/£4
Size: 511 MB
Version: 1.0.2
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Get Suzy Cube

Apple’s first iPhone arrived well after the 3D platformer’s late-nineties heyday. As a result, we don’t really get too many iOS games that owe a clear and direct debt to Mario 64.

Thanks to the vagaries of touchscreen controls, we get even fewer decent ones. Now though, Suzy Cube is here to bring iPhone gamers up to speed.

The developer is clearly in love with Mario

In this game, your cute cuboid character still runs and jumps between platforms like in Oddmar or Super Mario Run. Rather than just scuttling from left to right, though, you’ll also find yourself moving back and forth into the screen, with the camera subtly tilting and panning where necessary to grant you an optimal view.

It’s not a full-on free-roaming adventure by any means, but the extra depth brings a new dimension to the gameplay – both literally and figuratively. For example, each stage gives you a side goal of collecting three green stars. These are often hidden away on little side paths that you can explore or else choose to ignore.

Presents contain new hats

Such a branching structure is very hard to implement in a 2D platformer without sacrificing pace and immediacy. Suzy Cube’s tightly stacked levels, however, rarely lose their sense of momentum.

There’s a ticking time limit to keep you moving forward, but it’s also down to the game’s condensed level design and clear signposting. Indeed, where Suzy Cube is at its weakest is when its levels lose a little of that focus and bewilder you with multiple extended paths or tedious backtracking.

It’s a 3D platformer – of course there are ice levels

The best levels – of which there are plenty of examples – drive you ever onwards or upwards, revealing neat new mechanics at steady intervals. You’ve no doubt seen platforms that move and disappear before, but how about 3D platforms that rotate?

Hero Suzy also gets a range of hats that both grant her an extra hit and modify her abilities, such as a ground pound or an extended jump.

As we’ve already alluded to, this would all be for naught if Suzy Cube’s virtual controls weren’t up to scratch. For the most part, though, they work very well indeed. You move around by dragging on the left side of the screen, and jump by tapping on the right. That’s it.

Occasionally it can be a little tough to judge the depth of your jumps, such as when measuring a bounce onto a (rather repetitive) boss-serpent’s head. As well as those controls have been refined, too, there simply is no replacement for a physical analog stick when it comes to 3D platformers.

Rotating platforms can be quite a challenge

For the most part, though, Suzy Cube plays a treat. It’s both a loving nod to the 3D platformers of the past and a fresh introduction to the genre for a smartphone generation who missed out on them first time around.