Mechanics to the rescue.
While designing The Other Brothers for Apple Devices, 3D Attack Interactive took some of the best and arguably worst elements from 80s/90s gaming, leaving us both entertained and frustrated. Except in this case, we didn't have plastic NES controllers to throw around. Retro 2D graphics and music? Check. Somewhat annoying game mechanics and bad guys? Check. Missed potential? Definitely.
This old-fashioned platformer stars two mechanics, Joe and Jim, who set out to rescue a young woman named Tavy from some mobsters. There's little depth to the story and that's fine, seeing as how most 30-year-old games are light on plot. Instead, the designers set out to enrich this virtual world with subtle pop culture references, including homages to James Bond and Street Fighter. Even the title and heroes' appearance is a nod to Nintendo's Mario and Luigi. The Other Brothers? OK, sure.
When the game first debuted a couple of weeks ago, the developers came under fire for sloppy controls, an issue they mostly fixed with a free update that added a floating analog stick, fixed analog stick and fixed d-pad. Still not the best touch controls we've seen, but good enough that players will likely get the hang of things; the option to increase button sizes is a nice touch.
That said, we still have issues with enemy behavior. The various thugs and dogs you come across operate like heat-seeking missiles, locking on to a brother and giving chase until someone dies. On the positive side, this leaves them vulnerable to trickery, where they fall into pits or get crushed by heavy objects. Conversely, they have a tendency to gang up on the brothers and can somehow spot them from one level up, whereupon which they annoyingly mimic your movements as you frantically walk right and left in a desperate attempt to throw them off the trail. They also have a tendency to gang up, making it difficult to dispose of these creeps by jumping on their heads. Miss once, and you're probably dead unless you collected pigeons, the equivalent of gold rings in Sonic the Hedgehog.
As for the platforming, this is the type of game where a character falls off a ladder regardless of how high up or down he is. Over time you get accustomed to it, but expect to screw up during the more intense moments, even while jumping. The levels are at times so big, you cannot tell where you'll land.
Despite the complaints, we continue to play The Other Brothers because it's still a decent game. There are a ton of collectible oil cans to track down, and the sheer size of its stages inspire us to continue adventuring, just to see everything the game has to offer.
It also helps that its creators nailed the classic vibe, with pixelated visuals and a brand-new soundtrack that perfectly fits the artwork. Because of its issues, however, we can't award the game a high score, nor can we recommend it to every iPhone and iPad owner. That said, if you grew up alongside the likes of Super Nintendo and Genesis, perhaps you should pay these brothers a visit.
What's Hot:Two playable characters, presentation dripping with nostalgia, plenty of collectibles to track down.
What's Not:Irritating enemies, somewhat sloppy controls, tough to know where you'll land after jumping.