In a land that could have been ripped from the pages of many a storybook, resides a race of greedy tree-dwelling miners known as Timbergrotes. Their lives revolve around the constant hunt for treasure, until two Timbergrotes, Jack and Jeanine fall in love and start a large family. Meanwhile, underground demons fear that if the Timbergrote’s greed disappeared completely, they wouldn’t be able to rule the world (not sure how that works). The Demon Prince kidnaps Jack and Jeanine’s children, but the smart kids leave a trail of coins. As Jack, you must collect coins, and rescue his entire family in a very old fashioned platformer.
Incredible Jack is very much as simplistic as platformers get. You move Jack left and right with either on-screen arrows or a slider, and of course you can jump. Because the game’s pace it relatively slow, the on-screen controls work, even if they do feel a little stiff and clumsy. From then on, it’s a very straightforward romp through various generically themed levels: fields with large red toadstools, caves with bats in, etc. 37 levels are split across seven worlds, with each world ending in a suitably obvious boss fight (a forest world ends with a fight against a sentient tree, a snowy level ends with an abominable snowman… you get the idea).
If you’ve played pretty much any platformer over the past 30 years, you absolutely know what to expect from Incredible Jack, and that’s a bit of a problem. It’s certainly one of the more sedate platformers I’ve played in a while, with Jack bumbling around at a snails pace, stiffly jumping from platform to platform, bouncing on enemies to kill them, collecting coins, getting to the end of every level and occasionally bouncing on larger boss enemies to progress to the next world. A few items litter each level, accessed by headbutting blocks in a way popularised by a certain plumber, giving you useful trinkets such as magnets to attract coins and hearts for health.
The skeleton of a decent iOS platformer is here somewhere, but the execution is just so uninspired. Levels and enemies feel repetitive, there are quite a few cheap deaths because of enemies and falling blocks that appear out of nowhere, and the whole game just feels unmemorable. You might argue that a game like this is made for kids, but there are tons of games on the App Store that are themed towards families and children that are far more interesting than this.
There are in-game items to purchase with the coins you collect, such as one-use items, extra health and to improve jack’s ability to stay in water for longer; but there are also In App Purchases to unlock all of the levels, regenerate health, double the coins you collect and to purchase in-game coins to buy upgrade. Luckily, the game never tries to make you purchase anything with real money. In fact, it’s very easy to not even realise that there are in-app purchases. With the recent awareness of app purchases within child-orientated games, it’s good to see a game like Incredible Jack not bombard us with prompts to spend real money.
This is an okay-looking mobile game, with bright and colourful environments, as well as some decently animated characters and enemies, although admittedly the design of these creatures is pretty terrible. It doesn’t help that Jack looks like a dungaree-wearing scrotum with legs. The music sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of 90’s kids’ favourite Rosie & Jim – although, considering the game’s leaning towards younger kids, this is not a bad thing. Meanwhile, the sound effects range from the very cheesy to the incredibly unimaginative (each level begins with a weird sample of someone saying “Let’s Go” in a weird voice, which just sounds odd).
VERDICT: Incredible Jack is not a bad game, in fact it’s a pretty solid one. But it’s just so derivative of so many platform games from over the past three decades, that it doesn’t really have any personality of it’s own. Belmac Interactive never try to offer anything exciting or interesting enough to make you want to go back to this game after the first couple of levels. I’m not sure if “Incredible” is quite the right adjective to use in this game’s title. “Average Jack” seems more appropriate.
AVERAGE. The epitome of a 50/50 game, this title will be unspectacular but inoffensive, charmless but amiable. We aren’t condemning a game by scoring it a 5, but we certainly aren’t championing it, either.