Apple Jack 2

It’s been almost a year since I played Apple Jack.  Judging by the reaction to my review of it, it would seem that was the most disagreeable of all my reviews.  That, or birds were turning into rocks and dive bombing my windows.  Do birds turn into rocks?  Either way, many people genuinely liked the game.  I didn’t.  I thought it was too hard, the levels too sprawling, and the design rather bland.  I didn’t hate it, but I certainly couldn’t endorse it.  At least not without a kickback from the guys who make high blood pressure medication.

A Super Meat Boy like “run from the big baddie” chase, only your character is about half as agile. Yes, this game hates you.

Apple Jack 2 is now out.  Despite having a pretty good idea that I wouldn’t like the game too much, I have to admit I thought it looked pretty good.  Sure, it’s still a punisher, but there’s now a Prince of Persia (or Braid if you’re the artsy-fartsy type) style rewind feature for the hopeless stumblefuck gaming population.  The graphics look more colorful too.  What could go wrong?

Well, about that.  I guess I can say without reservation that Apple Jack 2 is a better game than the original.  But I still didn’t like it.  I still don’t get the appeal in punishers.  Even with adjustable difficulty levels, I found Apple Jack 2 to be fucking maddening.  The rewind function, which was put in place to give you chances to undo fuck-ups, mostly just increased the aggravation factor.  I often rewound missteps, only to immediately die because I didn’t let go of the button at the right time.  You can only use it every six seconds, so it doesn’t really work as the immortality-granting super power I was hoping it would be.  I guess the argument was supposed to be “we didn’t want to make it too easy.”  To which I counter back “there are adjustable difficult levels.  I picked the pussy mode.  Obviously I wanted immortality, you jerks!”

So I didn’t get to live forever.  Or for more than twenty seconds at a time on average.  What I did get to do was enjoy the significantly improved level design.  Oh, it’s not easier.  Don’t get me wrong.  The game wants you to feel humiliated at your ineptness.  But stages are much more clever this time around.  Some have you trying to get to an exit.  Some have you trying to kill enemies.  Some have you running from things.  Some have you on giant platforms that auto-scroll.  Every new stage seems to be original in concept and execution, which is a big departure over some of the monotone stages of the original.  Unfortunately, originality didn’t extend to the enemies.  You’re still fighting the same pandas, washing machines, eyeballs, owls, and little spiky thimble thingies from the first game.  The only major addition to the enemy roster (as far as I could tell, rage got the better of me about half-way through) is giant saw blades.  As a result, Apple Jack 2 feels more like Apple Jack 1.5.  More of an expansion rather than a continuation.  It’s weird because the box art is a homage to Super Mario Bros. 2, which was a huge departure from the original game.  Despite improvements, Apple Jack 2 is pretty much the same game as the original.

Another change: enemies drop fruit instead of coins now, no doubt some kind of anti-capitalism subtext.

It’s a shame, because I think the developer has got to be oozing talent out his rear end.  The graphics, sound, music, and level design all suggest that.  I just don’t want a game that cheerfully holds my head underwater.  Some people do.  Weird people, sure, but they’re out there.  I do question if the market for these games is as big as people make it out to be. There have been punishers that are huge hits, but how often do those pop up?  Of the 90 top-selling XBLIGs as of this writing, only two are punishers: the Impossible Game and the Impossible Game Level Pack.  The market is trying to tell you developers something.  If you weren’t so busy dumping salt on slugs and blowing up frogs with firecrackers you would have noticed by now.

Apple Jack 2 was developed by My Owl Software

80 Microsoft Points said to debate which of the remaining 88 games are also punishers in the comments section in the making of this review. 


About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

8 Responses to Apple Jack 2

  1. Which of the remaining 88 are punishers depends on your criteria. I certainly felt like Try Not To Fart was punishment.

  2. Starglider says:

    I think by ‘the monotone stages of the original’ you mean ‘the monotonous stages of the original’, as AFAIK Apple Jack didn’t have any stages where everything was one colour…

  3. GaTechGrad says:

    I’ve never played a game where wall jumping seemed like it was a fun thing to do. It wasn’t fun in Super Metroid, it wasn’t fun in Ninja Gaiden, and it hasn’t been fun in any game since then. At least in Ninja Gaiden it just lets you hold the jump button, so you don’t have to press jump at the exact split second when you touch the wall.

  4. skaipio says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever understand how you can dislike Apple Jack so much but Aban Hawkins could make it on your leaderboard.

    Also, I don’t get why every platformer must be compared to Super Meat Boy. As much as I love that game, I don’t think it should be credited with inventing most of the genres well-known mechanics.

    @GaTechGrad: I agree that wall jumping in Apple Jack fills kinda stiff and restricted, but if you also didn’t like it in games such as Outland, Splosion Man or N+, the mechanic probably just isn’t something you can enjoy for some reason. I’m usually disappointed when I play a platformer that turns out to be lacking this feature.

    • Aban Hawkins would NEVER have made the leaderboard these days. It had the benefit of being the second game I reviewed. However, I still insist it’s one of the better punishers. Mood, feel, level design, etc.

  5. Pingback: Slick (Second Chance with the Chick) « Indie Gamer Chick

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