Subscribe to Pocket Gamer on
Why are you curled up in a corner crying and laughing?

Because Beneath the Lighthouse is a mean game. Mean and brilliant. I don't know if there's a word for that, but there should be.

Er, okay. So what is it?

It's the new game from Nitrome. It's a puzzling platformer, but in classic Nitrome fashion it's got a brilliant twist. The main character is a ball, and you move him around by twisting the 2D levels around.

That sounds interesting. Is it tilt based?

It is not, it's touch based. The levels are circular, and you swipe a finger around in loops to twist them around. It's a really good system, and while it does take a few goes to get used to it, once it clicks it opens up some really interesting ways of playing.

I like interesting ways of playing

Me too. Me too. Sometimes you need to move blocks around the level to clear a path for your bobble-headed hero. Other times you need to expand platforms by keeping your finger pushed down on the screen. The game adds new ideas often, but the solid core of swirling can support them all.

And it looks good as well

It does. It's got the usual Nitrome pixel-art charm, and the soundtrack is every bit as good as you'd expect. There's a swagger to the game that makes it almost irresistible. But, as I might have mentioned, it's also pretty damn tough.

Curling up in a ball and crying tough, right?

That was maybe a slight exaggeration. But it's not an easy game. The controls aren't fiddly or unfair, but they are unforgiving. It doesn't take much of a mistake to end your run. Then each set of levels has a rating system based on how quickly you complete them.

Does it have lives? Or do you just smash yourself against a level until you complete it?

Sort of both. The game is free to download. You can play everything, but each grouping of levels only gives you three lives. Lose those and you can watch an ad to get more, or head back to the first of the bunch.

Sounds like a fair way to do free to play

I thought so. And if you don't like ads or lives, you can spend £2.99 / $3.99 to get rid of them entirely, essentially turning the game into a premium title. It's the best of both worlds, but I'd recommend spending, if only to ease some of the teeth-gnashing a little.

It's already pretty clear that this is getting a recommendation


It is. I love Nitrome, because it constantly plays around with the form of mobile games. Everything it releases is brimming with new ideas and new twists, and Beneath the Lighthouse in no different. This is platforming done with aplomb and intelligence, and you should go and get it now.