When the Hook Champ was first released back October last year I was instantly impressed but refrained from posting much about the game until I actually completed it. Now that the new version, Super QuickHook, is out I thought I’d take this opportunity to look back and also provide some insight into what I think about the first and the most recent version of the game.
In a nutshell, Hook Champ is a physics platformer about using a grappling hook to swing through haunted ruins at high speeds. Featuring pixel style retro graphics, Hook Champ is basically a ‘single tap on the screen’ type game. Your task is to complete the level as quickly as possible and at the same time collect as many gold coins which allow you to purchase power-ups and additional “style” goods from the store. The game starts pretty easy, where you may find yourself doing as much walking as swinging. The map is split into different areas, usually 2 at the time are unlocked and to access more you will need to collect enough coins and finish previous levels. As you unlock new levels, the only way to pass through them is by being in the air. Precision and timing is crucial but with practice you become the master, tapping perfectly at the right time swinging over and through obstacles at amazing pace. It is not enough just to grab onto something above, it is about finding the perfect swing radius to least disrupt the motion flow through the level. Did I mention there was a big bad black monster following you? Yep, that’s it, speed and staying in front of it is important. Some power-ups include rocket shoes, longer rope, larger gold coin collection radius and all of these have different levels, ie you start with Level 1 rope and end with Level 4. Higher the level the more they will cost you so collecting as many gold coins as possible will make this process easier. I estimate about 5-6 hours playtime to complete the game. At times you may get stuck and some levels will take 10-20 replays to complete. This may sound somewhat mundane but in practice is very gratifying. This is also the case when you get to the last few levels where perfect precision and timing are crucial. The game is pretty balanced, with time your skill will improve and you will feel like you made the game yourself.
This brings us to the new version of Hook Champ called Super QuickHook. Where you may expect this to be a very similar game it does feel very different. The UI and graphics have generally been improved, physics as well and the overall game feels a lot more fluid. The map for the levels has been abandoned (finally!, I hated that thing in the first version) and now you have a horizontal scroll menu showing different maps to play. The progression through the levels feels a little easier and I am not sure whether that’s because I played Hook Champ before or because the team chose it to be that way. Once you get near the end levels the condition to unlock them is to beat developers’ scores on the early levels. Now, this has proved very challenging, meaning that you MUST collect all the coins and complete in reasonable time. Once again, 10-20 replays have done it for the simple reason I had to learn the map off by heart. This is very different to the previous version of the game. In Hook Champ you could just run through the level without collecting most of the coins. Sure, it felt great to collect all but you didn’t have to. In QuickHook, to unlock the new levels you will have to know some of the maps inside out. As you progress, faster than in Hook Champ you will obtain new items from the shop. In most case you will probably be focused on power-ups and where in the first version you re-played maps just to collect coins to purchase power-ups in the latest version you will find that as long as you work through the levels you will collect enough coins to fund your new power-ups. This is somewhat disappointing and it does feel like a lot less effort than previously. I am nevertheless enjoying it very much and with only 2 levels left to complete I am somewhat sad and resist playing until I am ready to face the end.
If you have played Hook Champ before and you enjoyed it, I am sure you will love the Super QuickHook. If you haven’t I strongly recommend trying the original version first before you get to the new one. The skill you will gain will only make Super QuickHook more enjoyable and once you have played it it’s highly unlikely you will play the original version.
The developers suggest high replay value in both games but unfortunately, I somewhat disagree. I have never been a big shopper of accessories in games and where power-ups do have purpose you will find the rest pretty useless. You also have the option of playing different characters but considering this is a pixel aesthetic game I much more enjoyed the environment than worrying which character I am playing. In other words I do not think having an option to buy 100 different hats will make this game worth replaying. Once you have reached the end it is unlikely you will go and play it again. I have tried, but did not feel the same joy as I did the first time around.
To summarise, both games are fantastic! Hook Champ and Super QuickHook are probably (by my standards) some of the best games for the iPhone. For $2.99 a pop they will keep you entertained for hours and I can’t recommend them more. Get them, you won’t regret!
Developer: Jeremy Orlando
Posted on: 06/07/2010