Each is effortless to pick up and play, built for instant gratification during ad breaks and bus rides, much like Canabalt or Robot Unicorn Attack.
Yet, unlike those infinite running games, Hook Worlds is no one-button time waster. It’s just as smart and sophisticated as its big brothers, retaining everything that made its predecessors so appetising: the rhythmic momentum, the fitting controls, and a just-one-more-go quality.
Swings and roundabouts
You run automatically and only have two buttons to press: one to throw out a hook (or jump, if there’s no ceiling overhead) and a second to perform a unique action - rocket up into the air, shoot a revolver, or flip gravity on its head.
Since you’re always moving forward, you often find yourself leaping off cliffs or bounding into spiky walls with no way of stopping. As such, by having to hit a button to toss your grappling hook rather than tapping on the screen, you don’t get to control the exact placement of your next swing.
Similarly, by offering up randomly generated stages instead of handmade levels, Hook Worlds never feels predictable or played out. However, you’re at the mercy of the randomly generated pixels and pathways that cause some deaths to feel unfair.
Take your pick
Then again, it’s hard to get too frustrated or bored with Hook Worlds because it offers up so many different ways to play.
As soon as you get bored of the classic, high-speed swinging chase of Curse of the Watcher or Hook Champ 1000, you can move on to the unique diversions of Bounty Gunner or Cybergnome 202X.
Bounty Gunner is slower and more deliberate, focusing on careful offensive attacks by bounty hunter Zella and her handy golden revolver. Despite Zella still packing a grappling hook alongside her six shooter, this mode feels completely new and original, if a little tough.
Cybergnome 202X is just pure craziness, completely reinventing the original formula - with mixed results - with a futuristic gnome that flips gravity on a whim to have you running on the ceiling and swinging off the ground. Definitely one for veteran hook champ masters only, with its violent difficulty curve.
Rocketcat’s obsession with headwear is still intact, with all manner of fancy hats and grappling hooks to unlock. They're entirely superficial, but give you something to work towards. You can also grab achievements and climb the leaderboards through OpenFeint, of course, but the lack of Game Center support is a disappointment.
While its simple pick-up-play nature might not be totally tantalising, Hook Worlds feels unique in its overhauled control scheme and creative new levels. It deserves a place on your home screen, even if it's right next to one of its better, deeper older brothers.