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If you've ever owned a Nintendo Game Boy, you've probably played Tetris on it. The two simply go together. The capabilities of the machine complement the design of the game in perfect synergy resulting in a bond so strong, no other version of the game feels quite the same, even on Nintendo machines.
Doodle Jump is the same on iPhone. The tilt control and touch-screen interface fit the machine perfectly and with the game so universally accessible in terms of controls, rules of play and distribution, it is the iPhone's Tetris. In more ways than one:
In Tetris, your blocks can't pass the top of the screen or it's Game Over. In Doodle Jump, the bottom of the screen is the same for your doodle man. Doodle will jump, Tetrominoes will fall. You deal with the rest.
Doodle Jump's platforms move faster and become less densely spaced the higher you go, ramping up the difficulty the better you do (see picture, right). Tetris simply gets faster. All the rules stay the same – the games just get harder as you go.
Tetris can feel unfair when it doesn't give you the block you want and occasionally a platform will dip below the bottom of the screen in Doodle Jump and cease to exist, leaving you scrambling for the nearest green ledge. But that's just you not realising the danger quickly enough. The game worlds are constant in their rules and any failure is the fault of yourself, not the game. Even that bit where the draggable platform doesn't make it onto the screen - you should've dragged the first one higher.
In Tetris, the reward for a high score is a short cut-scene of a rocket taking off. It's hugely unexpected and very welcome. In Doodle Jump, the game's best moment comes when you collect the jet pack, rocketing skyward with nothing able to stop your ascent. Both of these money shots are infrequent, which is why they stand out so much when they come around.
Above: Seeing Doodle's rocket for the first time feels the same as Tetris'
Doodle Jump's controls are even simpler than Tetris' as the only 'button' is a tap of the touch-screen to fire a bullet - everything else is handled by tilting the unit at varying degrees. It's no co-incidence that some of the best and most enduring video games have used simple control schemes. Pac-Man just used a stick, Sonic's buttons were all 'jump' and then there's this little lot.
You may have to think on your feet in Doodle Jump more often than you do in Tetris, but there are clear benefits to planning your ascent. Just as in Tetris you can blow a potential big-scoring Tetris (the long, straight block) and pick up a small one or two-line gain, so you can pass up a spring in Doodle Jump to make sure you don't accidentally bypass a jet pack.
Above: See - the same psychology applies. Us? We hit the spring. D'oh
While Apple keeps App sales close to its chest, Doodle Jump has been at or near the top of the best-sellers chart since its release. Its developer, Lima Sky, has reported that it sold 79422 units on Christmas Day, 2009 alone and passed the one million mark before that date. Tetris is reported to have sold 35 millon copies on Game Boy and while iPhone doesn't (yet) have the install base to challenge that figure, but it must be up there with the best-selling games on the platform. If some executive types have an iPhone and don't use it for games, then the ratio of gamers with iphones who own Doodle Jump is probably the same as Game Boy owners who have (had) Tetris. And yes, that's an exact damn science, okay?
Even if you haven't got any friends, you'll be competing with yourself for ages on either game. But while Tetris on Game Boy didn't even have battery backup to save scores, Doodle Jump can not only upload your score to a global hi-score table, you can even boast about it on Facebook or email someone with a challenge.
As GamesRadar's Meiks has found to much chagrin. Hehehe.
08 Mar, 2010
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