As SpikeDislike3's name might suggest, this is a game about avoiding spikes. Because it really hurts when you impale yourself on one.
In this case, you start off as a ball, but because the developer was apparently high on sugar, later levels find you transforming into a spinning vinyl record in a sea of pixels, a leaping Santa, a unicorn atop lurid rainbows, and a startled sheep.
Ups and downs
Gameplay-wise, everything's present and correct from previous entries in the SpikeDislike series - whatever you’re controlling bounces up and down, and the screen scrolls whenever you tap.
You have to constantly figure out your trajectory, and time your presses to perfection, so as not to get spiked.
The same finely judged combo scoring from other SpikeDislike games is also in place. There's a timer that can count you out if you take too long between spikes, and the more spikes you get past without letting go of the screen the more the points rack up.
As ever, it's exhilarating when you’ve bounced past four spikes by the skin of your teeth, and maddening when your reactions are fractionally too slow to stop you blundering headlong into a fifth.
So far, so SpikeDislike2 (or SpikeDislike), you might be thinking. Is this third outing merely a showcase for the developer’s passion for oddball themes?
Fortunately, no. First and foremost, the game has a smartly conceived level structure rather than the relative chaos of its predecessor.
Now you zig-zag up a 150-item ladder - every ten levels provides nine finite tests before an infinite challenge. Secondly, the various themes aren’t merely aesthetic - they change how you play.
The new approach to levels is a masterstroke, providing bite-sized nuggets when working your way through the game (and learning each theme’s idiosyncrasies), but endless challenges once you’re done.
And the themes are pretty fun, too. Although the game retains a kind of trademark visual crudeness (in a couple of cases making the spikes a bit hard to see).
It's amusing to find yourself on some kind of moon, discovering just how different a change of gravity makes avoiding spikes, or racing a sheep in a nod to the developer’s own cruelly overlooked Sheep Goes Left.