Tropical Madness
| Tropical Madness

With autumn on the way, most squirrels are busying themselves burying acorns while being generally bushy-tailed.

The last thing they'd want to be doing, you'd imagine, is taking on bats, giant snakes and crabs while dodging pits of fire and spikes. They'd rather prepare their nest in some hollow tree and get ready to sleep. I know I would.

But Tropical Madness' hero, Furrito the squirrel, clearly thinks differently to his tree-dwelling brethren. He's willing to forget all about his stash of nuts in order to liberate his captured squirrel tribe from a nasty dragon-type oppressor. Or something.

The resulting game takes the form of an isometric adventure game. You control Furrito via your mobile's thumb stick, or the '2', '4', '6' and '8' keys. Spread over 12 large levels, the idea is to traverse each stage collecting blue stars, which when you reach the finish releases a number of your captured buddies.

The recent classic Super Monkey Ball games are an influence, as well as the older Marble Madness, which is itself now on mobile too. Tropical Madness tends towards the latter, as you directly control your spinning hero, rather than tilting the platforms as is the case in Super Monkey Ball.

Pressing the '5' key makes Furrito spin, giving him a burst of speed, or when enemies are nearby, making him attack by bouncing onto them. A quick second attack is enough to finish them off. On the first Rain Forest level in particular, you may find yourself wondering if you're playing a game based on Sega's famous hedgehog, Sonic.

We found the control a little fiddly in our initial attempts to play the game, but you do get used to it with practice. Gameloft has also added a nice feature where you can choose one of three pre-set key layouts to find the control system with which you're most comfortable.

That's crucial, because although Tropical Madness features generic platform-game obstacles like spikes, fireballs, chasms and roaming enemies, it's the uneven terrain of steep inclines, gradients, full-on hills, angled ridges and perilous holes that create the gameplay.

And by the later stages of the game, you'll need a dextrous grasp of the controls, as you'll have an ever-decreasing amount of space to work in, as well as increased numbers of enemies. With this in mind, Furrito will spend many situations teetering on the edges, only for you to pull him back to safety by pressing in the opposite direction.

Visually, Tropical Madness is undeniably a bit of a looker. Considering the viewpoint, Gameloft has managed to get a high level of cuteness, personality and detail to resonate from the tiny mobile screen.

Well-animated characters and colourful backgrounds shift along, with a smooth scrolling rate. At times the game ups the ante too, with Furrito hitting full speed and bouncing off the barriers and walls pinball-style, charging through loop-the-loops, leaping huge chasms and plummeting down water flumes. It's pretty impressive.

Overall, Tropical Madness is an enjoyable and challenging game that just happens to be easy on the eye. It's well worth a place on your phone's memory card.

Tropical Madness

A large, smart-looking romp with some nice ideas for you to get your teeth into
Chris Maddox
Chris Maddox
Liverpool fan, Chris, loves to watch the mighty Redmen play. In between matches however, he's an avid mobile games reviewer for Pocket Gamer. Chris has assured us that he only thinks about Liverpool FC a mere 80 per cent of the day.