These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.
There's nothing quite like the rush you get when you zip through a platformer, executing perfect jumps and slides with the precision of a seasoned pro--or, at least, someone who has played the same level 5422 times.
It's probably been a while since you felt that rush, unless you've been taking advantage of old-school Nintendo eShop titles on your 3DS (I have). Perhaps that's because handheld consoles and mobile devices today are full of fancy touchscreen tech, which are not exactly conducive to the precise button-presses needed to excel at Super Mario Bros. If you're at all familiar with that old adrenaline rush I'm talking about, you have to download Mikey Shorts on your Android or iOS device.
Mikey Shorts, created by BeaverTap Games, is a retro-styled 2D platformer reminiscent of Super Mario Bros (and, to a certain extent, Sonic the Hedgehog). It looks and sounds like the Super Mario franchise, with bright, primary-colored backgrounds and that oh-so-familiar coin-collection ding.
It's not a complete Super Mario cop-off (hey there, Flappy Bird), so don't expect to see bright green pipes and turtles with spiked shells wandering around. Instead, you play as Mikey, all of your friends have been turned into statues, and it's your job to unfreeze them. You do this just by touching them, and once free, they teleport into space. (It's a little weird, yeah.)
The game has two modes, the first of which is story mode. Story mode consists of 24 levels across six worlds, and although it is a quick play-through, perfecting it is another thing entirely. To beat each level--as in, to just get through and unlock the next level--you have to touch all the statues and make it through each checkpoint until you reach the final, big checkpoint. Checkpoints look like glowing purple gateways of light, and you can't go through a checkpoint unless you've hit every statue prior to that point. Obstacles will get in the way, like the environment itself (ledges, cliffs, and other dangerous things found in nature) and small roaming robots. You can slide through the robots to destroy them, but they're otherwise harmless: They will not kill you.
Aside from just making it through a level, there are three other goals to achieve, which keep the game fresh and entertaining:
Time: The time goal is pretty straightforward: Beat the level quickly, and you get stars. An acceptable time gets you one star, a "pretty good" time gets you two stars, and a near-perfect time gets you three. The stars aren't necessary for anything other than an ego boost, but trust me, after your initial play-through you'll want to go for that ego boost. When you play for time you'll also find that Mikey Shorts' relatively peaceful nature (there are no enemies and you never die) doesn't mean that the game can't get real frustrating, real fast.
Coins: The coin goal is also pretty simple: Collect all the coins in a level and you get a little coin achievement. Coins, which are peppered and unhidden throughout each level, let you buy disguises for Mikey in the shop. There are tons of disguises--everything from sunglasses and hockey masks to a hat that is actually a cat. (Seriously, there's a cathead disguise, in case you really want that.)
Golden Shorts: Each level contains a hidden pair of Golden Shorts, which you can find if you look really hard and constantly jump into walls. Again, there's no real reason to look for Golden Shorts other than the fact that you'll get a Golden Shorts trophy at the end of each level. If that's not enough of a reason, you probably shouldn't be playing this game.
After you've played through a few levels in story mode, the second mode--challenge mode--will open up. Challenge mode features 60 challenging (really, really challenging) timed levels. The clock is counting down rather than up, and your goal in each level is to get through before the clock runs out. There are star rankings for each level, but simply getting through a level will often get you the first star. That's how difficult they are. Luckily, you don't have to actually beat each level to unlock the next one; levels unlock sequentially, but if you give it a fighting chance (and lose), the next level will open up.
Mikey Shorts is simple, yet completely addictive. There's really nothing quite like a well-executed platformer with flawless graphics and (practically) perfect controls. Don't get me wrong: Mikey Shorts' virtual buttons, which consist of left, right, jump, and slide, can't beat my original Game Boy. But they're pretty darn close to excellent, considering we're working with a touchscreen. You can also customize the buttons--move em around, adjust their transparency--for a better, more personalized experience.
Because Mikey Shorts' time constraints for the top star tiers are so strict, there will definitely be moments of frustration when the virtual buttons fail you. But part of platform gaming is replaying each level a bazillion times anyway, right?