STAFF REVIEW of Doodle Jump Kinect (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Friday, July 19, 2013.
by Adam Dileva

Doodle Jump Kinect Box art Originally released in 2009 for iOS and developed by Lima Sky, Doodle Jump quickly becomes a very popular platforming game that allowed for quick and addictive gameplay. With over a 100 million downloads, needless to say Doodle Jump is very popular and has been played by a whole slew of people. There’s a reason it’s been so popular, because it was fun, quick, addictive, and colorful. Doodle Jump has been ported to almost all mobile devices of some sorts, and now it finally makes its way to the consoles, though with Kinect support.

You’re tasked with guiding Doodle from the ground all the way up and up into the sky, bouncing from platform to platform while using power-ups, avoiding enemies, and trying not to fall and miss a platform to stand on. You’ll guide Doodle by physically moving left to right to maneuver, using your arms to aim and shoot enemies in the way, and even flap your arms frantically to use wings to fly upwards even faster with specific power-ups.

For those of you that have not had the chance to play Doodle Jump before, the premise is as simple as it gets; you control a cute four legged creature named Doodle that can’t stop jumping. You need to guide him upwards in the sky and make him land on platforms so that he doesn’t fall when the screen scrolls upwards and you can’t see the platforms below any longer. In the original game, it was a never ending series of platforms and you just kept going until you eventually fell or hit an enemy. With Doodle Jump for Kinect though, it is more mission structured and there’s no endless game mode like fans of the original might expect. Instead of dying when you fail to land on a platform or hitting a bad guy, you simply restart at the last checkpoint (levels have about five or so) while your overall time continues to count, earning you a lower score the longer you take once you complete the level.

On mobile devices you used to control Doodle by using the accelerometer by tilting the device, but now with Kinect controls implemented, you’ll have to actually move from side to side to move Doodle where you want him to go. Luckily though you don’t have to actually jump every platform, you simply steer his auto jumping. You’ll have to arm with your arm to shoot enemies, flap your arms to use your Wing power-up (when collected), clap to disable contraptions with an EMP power-up, raise your arms to use the Rocket Pack, and actually jump when you land on a trampoline to get use of a double jump. Even with a decent amount of living room space for Kinect, you’ll still need to clear more room as you’ll be bouncing from one side to another. You’re able to lean to slightly correct your movements but fully expect to have to move fully from one side of Kinect’s viewing angle to the next. There are certain parts and platforms where you’ll literally have to leap from one side to the other to make the jump correctly as well.

The game starts out simple enough, with basic levels and platforms without much to worry about other than maneuvering Doodle to the correct spots. The earliest levels are completed very quickly and without much hassle once you get used to the range of movement you need. Slowly new mechanics and obstacles are introduced which will have you using new power-ups, avoiding enemies, and even deal with fake and one time use platforms to jump on. Eventually all of these mechanics are piled on top of each other, making for frantic and extremely challenging levels in the later stages. With three worlds to play through, each of which have ten stages, the final being a boss battle, there are thirty levels of jumping to be had.

As you finally reach the later levels you’ll quickly become frustrated though, not because of the linear difficulty progression (which is a part of it), but more and more unseen hazards will seem to get in your way. You can hear when enemies get close just before you bounce near their area, but sometimes they can’t be avoided easily. The same goes for the cannons that shoot directly in your way, and if you don’t take your time you’ll certainly hit them and have to restart at the previous checkpoint. On one hand the game wants you to speed through it for the better score and hopefully unlocking a 3 star rating (good luck), but on the other there’s so many enemies and obstacles put directly in your path that you have to sometimes take your time before you can move on. Every stage and level is premade and set, and not random, so you can eventually learn each stage and with enough practice make your way up the online leaderboards.

Levels start off quick and checkpoints seem appropriately placed, but as you progress further this doesn’t seem to be the case. Eventually (with many restarts at checkpoints) levels won’t be the quick few minutes per, but ten to twenty depending on how accurate and quickly you can move and react. The checkpoints seem to be spread way too far thin in the last area of the game, and coupled with a lot of cheap deaths, it feels a little tiring at the end of your journey through the thirty levels. To break up the monotony a little bit are the tenth stage boss battles, which are done quite well. The boss battles feel unique and will test your skillset you’ve learned up to that point of movement, accuracy, and speed; it’s just a shame there weren’t more stages like the Doodle Jump for Kinect became a lot more difficult than I was expecting, especially by the time you get to the final ten stages. While anyone can play it with ease, the sparse checkpoints will probably frustrate younger or less experienced Kinect players. This isn’t even including the multiple times that my Kinect randomly lost calibration for no apparent reason, or used my power-ups without me doing the specified commands to do so. The other big issue I had was that when the game is paused and you want to jump back in and play, there’s no slight pause or countdown, so if your game is paused mid jump (purposely or otherwise), you will no doubt fail landing the jump before you paused.

It would have been nice to have randomized levels so that it always felt fresh playing the levels again for better scores and have more replayability in the long run. The thirty levels go quickly, but with the cheap 400 Microsoft Points asking price, it’s appropriately priced for what you get for some quick fun. While I would have preferred a sit down mode if Kinect is being forced, I do wish it was controller compatible for those that can’t move around as quickly that is required to progress in the more difficult stages. Doodle Jump for Kinect is fun, and while it may not feel as classic as the original with its different level based outline instead of an endless mode, the game still looks and feels like it has a lot of charm to it. Doodle Jump is addictive for as long as your stamina allows but only if you’re into setting high scores and working your way up the online leaderboards to get more replays out of the game.

Overall: 5.8 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.5 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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