Get this: in this iPhone game, you want to cause something on your screen to jump, higher and higher in order to get a good score. If you’re like me, that sentence might have made you groan audibly with exasperation toward a genre that just doesn’t seem to want to go away. Ever since the beginning of iTime, it seems like the app store was plagued with Doodle Jump style games, and none of them ever really did anything unique to set themselves apart.
So, those are the stakes. If A Moon for the Sky wants to be noticed and successful, it has to convince my that it does something that Doodle Jump and its many followers don’t do already. In other words, it has to innovate. After all, how many different ways can we play the same game on the same device and not get bored?
Well, here’s another way. A Moon for the Sky does indeed manage to give us a new and engaging way to climb with our iPhone. Instead of tilting your device to land on perpetually appearing ledges, you are drawing the ledges yourself. Simply drag your finger across the screen to draw a ledge wherever you want and at whatever angle you like to propel the “moon” higher and higher.
It seems like a good idea, and it is more intriguing than most everything we’ve seen in this genre before. Still, there are some problems that keep the game from excelling in a way it could have otherwise. First, the game will only allow you to draw a line of a certain length, and rather than cutting off your drawing ability at the end of the line, it instead just moves the beginning of the line along with you. This means that if you accidentally draw the line too long, you’re actually moving the line out of the way of the moon. This can be an incredibly unfortunate disruption to careful playing.
Speaking of careful playing, you’ll need it to get through the game’s adventure mode, where a series of stages are offerred for the player to complete and then acquire various grades on. These levels start off easy, but be warned: they get ludicrously hard early on in the game. Some players may enjoy that challenge, but the feeling of frustration I got after failing several times in a row, each time having made it significantly closer to the end of the level, seemed to outweigh the amount of fun I was having.
Don’t get me wrong, A Moon for the Sky is a unique, fun game with a great atmosphere, some nice unlockable customization options, and a satisfying feeling when the player is doing well. Still, the difficulty and spotty controls result in some markedly unsatisfying moments that I could do without. Most of these problems could be fixed in an update, but for now, I think I’ll stick to Doodle Jump.
Review copy provided by publisher.