Penny Time is a strange game to introduce because while it has a story, a purpose, a magical skateboard capable of freezing time, and a plethora of still-frame cut-scenes that offer up an explanation of events, the culmination of our playthrough left us feeling none the wiser about what we'd just played.
Still, we can start with the basics. Penny Time is a game in the vein of rhythm music games such as Bit Trip Runner, a left-to-right sideways platformer featuring our heroine (hero?) riding their magical skateboard across school fields, shopping malls and suburbia, passing over the people and obstacles that have been frozen in time.
There are three core mechanics for negotiating each of the five levels. Blue markers require you to swipe right to send your skater leaping over an obstacle, while white ones require a quick upwards-stroke ollie and yellow ones require a downwardly flicked ducking maneuver. Hit the sweet spot of each marker and you'll receive more points. Hard mode ups the ante by having the markers bloom a little later, but the pay-off is that you'll get a higher score overall.
These levels are a little too long for anything other than sitting on the sofa with your feet up and taking in an extended session. Depending on exactly how mobile you like to have your mobile gaming, this may present something of an entirely different sort of obstacle. One for the journey to work or school perhaps.
While the artwork is wonderfully minimalist and allows you to focus more on your skateboard skills, the change in perspective as your skater moves from background to foreground can sometimes result in you missing a jump. Not because there was an increase in challenge that we couldn't best, but because the next marker was too pale against its backdrop.
Still there's a breezy and bizarre style to Penny Time that we found immediately arresting. The music may be a little hit-and-miss, but when it hits the right notes it makes for a refreshingly mature and considered soundtrack from what we suspect might even be an actual band!
Penny Time's replay value may be a little stilted but there are plenty of score-based achievements on hand should you feel the need to compete against yourself. Really, it's a game that works best as a one-time experience and a trawl through some great tunes and an often satisfying game. That
alone is worth the dollar price of entry.
What's Hot: The music's great for the most part and this is a refreshingly original game.
What's Not: The levels are a little too long and too easy on Normal mode.