Kid Tripp is all about the little things - tiny margins of error and pauses so imperceptibly small that when they happen you don't even notice. It's about finding the rhythm of a level and picking the perfect spots to leap, fire, and sprint.
It's nostalgia and cruelty, simplicity and extreme difficulty, all melded together into a tightly paced blast of 20-second levels that will take you a hundred tries to get right. It's grinning monkeys hurling rocks at you while you navigate a platform that's only big enough to place a single foot on.
And it is, without a doubt, one of the finest platform experiences that the App Store has to offer. Perfectly tailored for touchscreen devices and presented with a loving retro charm that's impossible to dislike, it's a ridiculously entertaining experience that's harsh but never, ever unfair.
Take a tripp
You play as a bobble-headed explorer who's sprinting through four worlds of spikes, pits, angry creatures, and shining gold nuggets. It's up to you to make sure he gets through safely, tapping out a refrain of jumps and rock throws using the game's simple controls.
Tapping on the left of the screen makes you jump and tapping on the right makes you throw a rock. Holding down on the right-hand side makes you sprint, a skill that's invaluable when you need to get across wider gaps.
You move from left to right automatically, which gives the limited move-set you do have an even greater urgency. Miss that tap by half-a-breath and you'll be impaled on spikes or plummet to your death at the bottom of that pit.
Deaths are quick but rarely painless, because you blame yourself for every single one. You learn each level like a combo in a fighting game, chaining together taps at just the right time to make sure you get to the next obstacle.
Your heart slumps when you mistime a tap - especially in a section you've cleared a hundred times before. But at the same time you're galvanised to push on, ever more determined to see the chequered flag that marks the end of a level.
I kid you not
It almost feels like cheating when you complete one of the 20-second levels on your first go, as though you haven't really earned the right to move on to the next. Luck rarely plays a part in your progression, because the game is so perfectly poised.
Your leaps feel weighty, and you can elongate them by holding your finger down a little longer. Figuring out the pattern of each level is almost like solving a puzzle, working out the combination and length of presses you're going to need to get to the end.
And it's all presented in beautifully chunky pixels and littered with nods to the platforming classics of yore. Kid Tripp is an exercise in how to handle nostalgia without resting too heavily on things that have already been done.
This is a game that stands on its own, reverential when it needs to be but never in thrall to the influences it so proudly sports on its thick pixelly sleeve.
This isn't a game that invites casual play, although its miniature levels certainly lend themselves to quickly grabbed gaming sessions. It demands attention, punishing any slip of focus with another swear-inducing death.
If you're looking for an iOS platformer with a violent bite and a wistful look in its straight-sided eye, then you should definitely check out Kid Tripp. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time dead or dying.