It’s one of the great iOS success stories: the heartwarming tale of a tiny indie developer making a simple game which almost inexplicably becomes a global phenomenon. With several million downloads to its name, Doodle Jump on iPhone has its name carved into the annals of gaming.
It could be argued that Apple owes Lima Sky a debt, too, as Doodle Jump was the first real App Store phenomenon, helping to validate iOS as a platform and encouraging hundreds, possibly thousands, of bedroom coders to start producing games for Apple’s devices.
Experiencing it again on a larger screen is to remind yourself that its success is no fluke. As single-minded as Doodle Jump is, it’s a masterful piece of game design: a game that embraces its limitations so perfectly that it should be a lesson in how to make so much from so little.
In case you’ve been in solitary confinement for the past three years (Pocket Gamer does have a large prison audience, we’re told) here’s the skinny: you play as a four-legged alien named the Doodler, who loves to leap.
The objective is simply to jump as high as you can, bouncing on floating platforms as you ascend. Tilting guides the Doodler left and right, while tapping the screen sees him spit out pellets at any obstructive nasties.
And that’s pretty much it. Aside from beating your own scores and those of your friends, there’s little else to keep you coming back. So, it’s the simple joy of playing that makes Doodle Jump a fixture on so many iOS devices.
Raising the bar
It’s all in the details, you see. The names and markers on the side of the screen representing the heights that others have reached is a genius piece of design, which has proven incredibly influential already. You’ll struggle to find a Doodle Jump clone without this feature.
Then there’s the satisfying ‘pop’ that sounds every time you jump. It should come as no surprise to learn that Lima Sky has actually made a bubble wrap app for iOS.
The artwork is instantly appealing – the Doodler is the kind of thing you imagine a frustrated design student scribbling in the margins of his exercise book during a dull science lesson. It’s been sensitively updated, too, with a series of level skins that help mask the game’s (necessarily) repetitive nature.
You might have noticed by now that I’ve said little specifically about this new edition, and that’s because there’s not an awful lot to tell. This is, to all intents, the iPhone game on a larger screen, with all fresh content saved for the forthcoming sequel.
Sure, the additional space means Lima Sky has had to recalibrate – more space to fall means more platforms to catch you when you miss a jump - but otherwise it’s almost identical to the small-screen version.
It goes without saying that tilting a heavier device requires a few seconds of adjustment, but the controls feel as natural as ever, and you’ll soon be racking up high scores once more. Nothing new, then, but Lima Sky’s game remains as irresistible on larger screens as it is on smaller ones.