Doodle Jump by Lima Sky appeals to simplicity in name, game design and play. Mimicking the appearance of actual doodles on graphing paper, the sketchy-sketch of a main character dons a suspiciously Qbert-like facade. He is green instead of orange, but the upside-down U shape, armless body, little legs and trumpet-shaped nose are as uncanny as daytime soap opera “twins.”
Game play in Doodle Jump is extremely similar, the character is constantly being propelled, bouncing, from one platform to the next while avoiding obstacles and trying not to fall.
He continues to jump without the player’s encouragement, the challenge is to use the accelerometer to guide his bounces left or right and ensure that he lands on a platform or a spring, but his upward motion is perpetual with each contact. Miss a platform or mistake the security of the brown platforms that crumble and he sails swiftly into abyss below. That horizontal guidance can be tricky as a tilt too severely to either direction will cause him to reappear on the opposite side.
Tapping the little guy in Doodle Jump transforms him from weird critter to weapon, encouraging him to shoot pellets straight into the air at his adversaries, which is a fun feature that isn’t readily recognizable. I stumbled on it by accident.
Though the homespun, doodled art graphics can be cute, the lack of audio isn’t so much. Doodle Jump provides no music and no ability to pipe in one’s own iTunes library. Only the basic actions of the game are accentuated, such as hopping, platforms breaking, shooting and, of course the classic cartoon falling noise. I can’t fathom what the onomatopoeia for that noise is, but anyone who has ever watched a 2D anvil fall or a crazed Chuck Jones character accidentally run off of a cliff has an idea of what I mean. Other than that, the silence can be deafening.
Though many might find this very basic format charming, I lost patience with it quickly. The challenge of shooting foes while maintaining upward mobility does not present itself soon enough and there is a lot of just bouncing around until it does. Doodle Jump is a darling, oft-duplicated concept, but it can be fun.