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Follow the Rabbit is the sort of game for which the iPhone is ideal. A slower-paced puzzle game, its apparently simple nature belies some fiendishly designed gameplay that provides surprisingly addictive.
Each level takes place on a single static screen made up of a number of blocks with a door located somewhere on the screen. At the start of each level, a little rabbit will hop through the door and your task is to follow it through the exit. Of course, this is not as simple as it sounds, since you can only make limited movements from one set of blocks to another and later levels are patrolled by enemies who will kill you the instant you touch them.
It's fair to say that Follow the Rabbit does not initially impress. The blocky graphics look like they might have been taken from a cheap 1970s Hungarian cartoon and the sound is not much better. Gameplay initially appears rather simplistic and a little too easy and you start to think you have made a mistake in spending 69p on this title. I raced through the first 20 levels without any difficulty at all and thought this was a game that would not be delaying me for terribly long.
But therein lies the game's appeal. The apparently simple nature of the opening levels belies a far greater depth. Once you get past level 10, you realise that these were just tutorial levels, designed to introduce you to the basics of the game and how to control it. Once you get past this, things start to get a lot harder and the deeper into the game you progress, the tougher they become, with some fiendish level designs that will really have you scratching your head. Enemies become more numerous or more ferocious and trying to work out a safe route to the exit door becomes a real challenge. There is a real strategic depth to Follow the Rabbit that is not immediately apparent and you will soon start to appreciate how cunning some of the level design is.
This is the real cleverness behind Follow the Rabbit. It sucks you into the game by fooling you into thinking that it is going to be easy. By the time the going gets tougher, you are totally addicted and determined not to let a particular level beat you. Like all the best puzzle games, it has that "just one more go" element; so that the minute you fail, you pick yourself up and try again.
Of course, like any puzzle game, getting stuck on a particular level can be frustrating and prevent further progress and whilst Follow the Rabbit might have a very well designed learning curve, there are still stages that will have you completely flummoxed. Similarly, once you have completed all the levels (which will take quite a long time) there is little further appeal to the game and it is likely to sit on your phone gathering metaphorical dust.
Once you have grasped that the game is good fun to play, the other criticisms relating to presentation also start to become more palatable. The graphics don't seem quite so rubbish and the square look to all the objects takes on a certain quirky appeal Yes, the game would have looked old-fashioned even on an old 8 bit machine, but this game doesn't need flashy graphics. Their simplicity complements the straightforward nature of the gameplay. The basic graphics mean there is nothing to distract you from your objective of working out how to escape from each level.
Sound is perhaps a little bit more of an issue. The game aims for a fairly standard cutesy platformer-type tune, but I found it soon became rather twee and annoying. Sound effects are fairly sparse (and tend to be drowned out by the tune) and this is one game that I usually play with the sound turned right down or even off. Such is the strength of the gameplay that you will scarcely notice this.
Controls, too, are brilliantly simple. You could probably work them out even without the tutorial levels and certainly this is a game which is accessible to anyone who has not played a computer game before. If you want to move left, you just swipe left; to move up, swipe up and so on. These simple controls work well and are highly responsive, adding to the game's long-term appeal.
With over 100 levels for the 69p download price, this is a very reasonable and very worthwhile title. Initial concerns over simplicity soon fade as later levels become really quite fiendish and will give you plenty of pause for thought. I expected nothing from Follow the Rabbit and so was pleasantly surprised when I found such an engaging and diverting little title.
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