Frenzy Pop HD
Have you got enough bottle for this agonizing platformer?
Whizzing blades, fast-paced tricky platforming, and a million ways to die may just put you in mind of a certain other rather well-known game of recent years. Super Meat Boy was the old-school challenger that launched to so much critical acclaim two years ago, and while Team Meat focus on building a new game in the series to suit touchscreen controls, developer S A Zahir is throwing caution to the wind and embracing this new-fangled control system completely.
As with Super Meat Boy, you're tasked with directing the main character Mr Pop across a series of levels, all wonderfully designed to smash you into a thousand pieces with barely a moment's warning. Spikes, collapsing ceilings and saw-blades are all placed with knowing good humor in this trial-and-error platform game.
Fortunately the controls are (just) up to the job, although there are times when Mr Pop wobbles just a little too perilously and unpredictably against a wall. A bounce here or there takes a little precision out of the necessarily sharp controls, but any mishaps are usually correctable with some quick-thinking. Directional buttons lie in the bottom-left of the screen, while the jump/double-jump button sits on the right alongside a rolling maneuver that throws Mr Pop onto his side so he can roll through narrow spaces.
This game isn't for the faint of heart, and Frenzy Pop wastes absolutely no time in throwing you straight into the deep end. Before long at all you're combining forward rolls, dodging collapsing roofs and taking perilously slides towards the next agonizing part of the level. Fortunately, the game also includes a mode called Pop Power where a limited amount of super-fuel can be used to propel Mr Pop over wide gaps or traps.
While there are a generous number of levels spread throughout the game's five themed stages, they are all mercifully brief. Once you've mastered a particular section, it quickly becomes second-nature to breeze through it again, before tackling the next, seemingly impossible challenge on your way to the exit zone.
As with Super Meat Boy's band-aids, each stage has a soda can hidden away somewhere and it'll take more than a few attempts to truly master every level by achieving a killer time and grabbing that can. Even once you've masted Normal mode, there are some seriously nasty levels to be unlocked, with each world offering up five Hard levels to really test your mettle.
Despite a few concerns surrounding the finer points of the controls, you can probably guess that we were rather pleased with our time with Frenzy Pop. You'll need a little bit of patience to climb the brick wall the game throws up for you far too early in the game, but if you persevere with it you'll end up with a very rewarding game that proves that precision gaming need not be the preserve of traditional controls only.
What's Hot: A fine balance between frustration and satisfaction.
What's Not: A rather familiar game, the controls could be a little more polished.