Lep is a cute little leprechaun. And not at all a moustachioed Italian plumber. No siree, Bob. And any suggestions that Lep's World is little more than a Mario Bros. rip off is a scurrilous rumour.
Anyway, whatever. A wicked wizard has kidnapped all Lep's friends and it's up to him to set out and rescue them. This involves making your way across eight worlds, each with eight stages, leaping on enemies, smashing blocks to release goodies and collecting cauldrons of treasure. So you see: absolutely no similarities at all to Mario. Move along; there's nothing to see here.
Still, whatever it might lack in originality, Lep's World 2 more than makes up for in playability. It has that same simple, fun but addictive gameplay and the instantly familiar action makes it a game that is universally accessible. All joking aside, the developers have captured that "certain something" that has made Mario so popular: the perfect balance of fun, addictive gameplay and reasonable challenge. It's also been perfectly adapted for mobile gaming.
Graphics are exactly the sort of brightly coloured things you would expect from a game influenced by early 90s platformers. Lep himself is a cute little chap in his green leprechaun outfit, whilst the baddies are also rather cute and at times it seems rather a shame to squish them. The whole game has a bright cartoonish feel but with enough variety between levels to give a sense of progression through the game.
Sound is fine without being remarkable. There are a number of different tunes which loop around every so often, and some are better than others. The standard Irish sounding tune that accompanies the first level is a little bit twee and grates on the ears after a while, but the others are generally better. Sound effects are exactly the sort of blings and beeps you would expect from a game inspired by the 8 bit era and fit the game perfectly.
Controls - often the bane of iOS games - have been really well adapted for the touch screen environment. A left and right button controls movement, a further one is used to jump and a final one for throwing fir cones (used to kill enemies as an alternative to jumping on them). Controls are generally well placed and well sized, large enough to use efficiently, but not so big that they obscure large parts of the screen. Just occasionally they can block the view of a bad guy, but this is rare enough to be forgivable.
For the most part, the controls are very responsive. Every so often they are just slightly sticky and don't do what you want when you ask them. This is frustrating because when it happens, it usually proves fatal. Again it doesn't happen too often to be a major issue: it's a minor irritant more than a major blight.
It's clear that real thought has gone into every aspect of Lep's World. An example of this is that you can store your progress on iCloud rather than your device, making saved games available across iOS different devices. So you can start a game on your iPad, but then carry on from the same point using your iPhone. This might seem like a small thing, but it really shows how much care has gone into the game's construction. Even a well-thought out game like Angry Birds doesn't do this, with game progress saved on the device memory so only accessible from that one device.
Where Lep's World is mildly disappointing is in its long term challenge. The 64 levels are not that tricky to complete, and it's not particularly hard to collect the three cauldrons of treasure on each level. In fact, the vast majority of them can be collected on the first run through, which leaves no real reason to go back and play them again. I'd say the average gamer is going to take than 10 hours to complete everything. For once, though, this lack of long term challenge is less important because the game is so much fun to play.
Lep's World is one of those games that reminds me why I am still a gamer after all these years. It might not offer much long term challenge, but it's fun, colourful and addictive. The price of Lep's World varies a little bit (although it's never more than 69p) but right now it's my favourite price: Free. There really never has been a better time to sample the delights of this Mario-inspired platformer.
(c) copyright SWSt 2012