Now that I'm the father of two young girls, I know for the first time since I was their age what the world must look like through their eyes. Androkids 2, from JadeWare, may not provide much insight into the mind of a three-year-old or a five-year-old, but if my daughters were to make their own platform game this is exactly what it would look like.
In that spirit, I've shown this game to my children, and I will now dutifully and faithfully transcribe their discussion.
K: Wow! This game is soooo cool. You use those buttons with the arrows on them to make your guy move around and the big long button makes you jump and…
C: And-and-and you get fruit and different fruit can do ALL KINDS of stuffs. Like if you eat that fruit right there like a circle it will make you SO BIG or if you eat that other fruit you can jump REALLY HIGH and you go up with the stars and the moon ball.
K: CAM-CAM! I was talking.
C: But, sister, I want to talk…
K: Don't listen to Cam-cam because she's littler than me and she's just a baby and babies don't play games. So, ANYWAY, you jump up and stuff and sometimes you get these black bombs and they go BOOM!
C: And don't forge-et! You have to get all the lellow circle things.
K: Those are c-o-i-n-s Cam-Cam, and you're interrupting me and you're 'sposed to say "excuse me." And you don't HAVE to get the coins.
K: No you don't, you HAVE to find the key that opens the door like Mommy and Daddy's keys!
C: Oh, really?
K: (sighs, rolls her eyes) Yes.
C: I wanna try!
K: No Cam-Cam. You already got to play it's MY turn!
C: But you're already playing and you got to play earlery (translation: earlier)
K: No Cam-Cam. Stop pushing!
C: Keiki! You're not sharing!
K: YOU'RE the one who… who… who isn't sharing!
K and C: DA-DDY!
Analysis: I was planning on letting the girls do the whole review, but they've both been sent to their room for fighting and managing somehow to stick the leg of a doll into a port I didn't know my laptop had so I guess I will finish this on my own.
At first blush, it may seem like the childlike aesthetic is the chief thing going for Androkids 2. Indeed, this artistic endeavor is amazingly well done, with crayon colors straying outside the frantically wobbling lines, stick figure flowers, and a sun with a permanent, if a little lopsided, grin. The notebook-paper backdrop seals the deal and reminds me of countless days filling up my binders with doodles when I should have been taking notes.
But underneath the novelty of the artwork lies a very solid platform game. The controls are for the most part tight and responsive, and the level design speaks volumes. In fact it comes as something of a surprise that the creativity that went into designing the levels matches or exceeds the creativity that went into the game's artwork.
Perhaps the largest flaw in Androkids 2 occurs when your character has to contend with a narrow gap. It's a fairly common convention in these types of games that one be able to run over gaps that are only one brick in width; a holdover from the original Super Mario Bros. But while it is clear Jadeware intended to hold true to this mechanic, the side effects have resulted in making it more difficult than it should be to jump up through such gaps or fall down them when necessary.
Still, this is a rather small nitpick for a game that grabs you with its unique visual character and holds you with truly solid gameplay. If you subscribe to the school of impossible platformers you may be disappointed, but if you never quite got over collecting coins and jumping on the bad guys, this is definitely right up your alley.