Review: Jool

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Endless runners are a genre staple for iOS devices these days.  The mechanic is simple and straightforward: tap, swipe or hold a finger on the screen to jump a character with unlimited stamina over a series of obstacles and platforms. The concept is tried and true, a very vanilla approach to using a device that is capable of so much more. There usually isn’t any substance beyond a few attempts, and yet most runners are hard to quit playing. Developers have figured out ways to add hooks to keep gamers coming back for more.

But what if you are bored with endless runners?  What if you want something fresh?  Something beyond vanilla?  Maybe a little chocolate?  A yin to the yang? Sweet to the sour?  Cheech to the Chong?  Then I’d suggest you give Jool a look.

Jool is a 2D platformer for iOS from Rostlaub that flips the constant runner idea (literally) on its head. Jool is about a cute blue bird who is constantly charging ahead to collect little triangle-shaped gold pieces. The pieces are littered across the screen on multiple levels, and tapping makes the bird jump up to reach higher platforms.  Of course the levels are uneven and broken so the challenge is to keep the little dude jumping at just the right moment so he doesn’t plummet to his death.

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But wait!  What’s that?  You can save the bird from endless runner doom by flipping your device over?  Madness I say!  Yup, by a simple flip of the device the bird is miraculously saved, morphing from a cute and cuddly blue fella into a darker red alter ego who runs in the opposite direction. The chocolate to your vanilla.  The sour to your sweet. The Chong to your Cheech.

As if collecting little gold pieces wasn’t enough, the game includes some seriously trippy power-ups that alter the size of the flippy hero and distort the visuals of the entire world. The game also has some seriously wicked-cool death scenes for the inevitable end run when there are no more flips available to save the bird. Jool is a twisted, dark, humorous game that brings all sorts of pop culture references to the table in its 30 different death scenes.

One thing missing from the game is a menu option that gives a better explanation of how each item interacts with the hero. On several occasions, I found myself tapping on the screen to make the bird jump only to end up tapping on something (or collecting a mushroom) and suddenly have everything go completely bonkers. Without any form of explanation, I had no idea what I did to make such actions happen or how to recreate them in the future.

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If you enjoy endless runners, Jool is a game you shouldn’t miss out on. I’m not one to normally promote in-app purchases, but Jool is one game that is totally worth spending an extra dollar on. One in-app purchase option is for a huge swath of the gold pieces, which allows for purchasing size adjusting or screen altering buffs as well as additional flips for extended play time. And you’ll want to extend play time for as long as possible, if only to see all of the twisted death scenes.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Flip mechanic adds a nice new dimension to constant runners
+ Wickedly hilarious death scenes
+ Dark yet fascinating art style

Cons:
– No menu option explaining what each object does

Game Info:
Platform: iOS
Publisher: ROSTLAUB
Developer: ROSTLAUB
Release Date: 1/30/2013
Genre: Endless Runner
Age Rating: 12+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.