Developer Digital Chocolate’s business model epitomizes a growing trend in the iTunes app store. While few of their apps are wholly original, most being variations on pre-existing genres, their games are consistently competent. Sure, their creations may not flaunt creativity, but they are wonderfully amusing and delightfully simplistic. The trend is continued with their latest release, Crazy Monkey Spin.
The title seems like a natural progression of Sway and Rasta Monkey, with its swinging protagonist that bounds across the touch screen. One could trace the game’s roots to 2005’s DK: King of Swing, with its spinning simian protagonist, and banana collectables. However, unlike the difficulty displayed by the previous titles, Crazy Monkey Spin offers a relatively relaxed diversion ideal for casual gamers.
Crazy Monkey Spin requires the player to cross an increasingly complex series of environments, in hopes of liberating a fellow mammal. Our cap-wearing hero, Momo, traverses the environment by moving from one wooden peg to another. Once he touches one of these poles, the monkey’s tail curls around it, allowing him to spin indefinitely. By sliding a finger across the touch screen, player can jump to an adjacent peg. The trick is to jump using the momentum of the spin; if you time a leap successfully, the little mammal travels further. Errant jumps shorten the Momo’s distance, resulting in a painful descent.
Luckily, falling doesn’t usually mean instant death, but rather an irksome unraveling of the player’s progress, requiring players to backtrack up to a high post. Often Momo will rebound off the walls, floor, or bumpers recalling the hyperkinetic antics of Sonic Spinball. While maneuvering through each level, the protagonist can collect bananas. These will not only will these restore his potassium level, but will allow the little monkey to unlock hats, which grant the silly simian special powers. The goo mask allows the player to stick to walls, while the space helmet gives the power of anti-gravity.
Every tenth level features a boss character who will actively try to impede Momo’s plans for animal emancipation. These stages tend to break the game’s casual cadence. Dying is frequent, as coming into contact with an antagonist results in an instant mortality for our little monkey. The title’s ability to incorporate your iPhone music library means that a certain Pixies song would be idyllic during these boss encounters.
Visually, Crazy Monkey Spins shows its mobile phone roots; while it’s cute, the game hardly maximizes the iPhone’s graphical abilities. Fleeting pauses happened infrequently, just often enough to tarnish the game’s typical fluidity. Worse the game’s jumps don’t feel snappy, with a slight amount of disconnect between the player’s swipe and the monkey’s movements. After an introductory load time of a half minutes (on a 3G) the game’s stages are delivered rapidly. Users who don‘t take advantage of the custom soundtrack feature can endure the title’s upbeat, but endlessly looping calypso-inspired rhythms.
Overall, Crazy Monkey Spin is a simple, yet enjoyable diversion designed that will appeal to iPhone users who enjoy a game that light on both complexity and challenge. Its $2.99 price is reasonable, but economically minded iPhone users will likely want to wait for the title’s inedible plummet in price.