A lonely, lost robot wakes up to find itself floating towards a strange island. It has no memory of where it came from or what it's doing, but as the little raft touches stable ground, it does what any amnesiac creature might do: runs forward to see what's out there. Gear World may not be the most original concept this side of Cave Story, but the hyper-difficult platforming action and carefully designed levels more than make up for the conventional setting.
As a little robotic square, you only have a few tricks up your sleeve to get you through the traps ahead. Walking and jumping are the staples, but an ability that allows you to turn into a gear to climb up walls and ceilings marked with orange teeth adds a new dimension of control. It also adds a new dimension of challenge, as navigating the vertical world suddenly becomes possible, but extremely precarious. Fortunately, you have unlimited lives to use as you run into spikes, electricity beams, and other dangers time and time again.
One of Gear World's other major gameplay mechanisms are the "up" icons you can touch for a temporary, single-use extra mid-air jump. These are placed strategically in levels where you'll need an extra hop to make it through, though pulling off the acrobatics will take precision and practice alike. In addition to these jump icons, you'll also come across checkpoints and switches of various sorts, the former saving your progress and the latter opening new paths to explore on the way to the exit.
Gear World succeeds at being a smart and challenging platformer. It doesn't try to reinvent any basic action gaming concepts, preferring to throw tough jumps and tricky maneuvers into your path to see how well you deal with them. There are even two endings to discover, the better of which you get to see if you collect all of the thunderbolt icons in each level. If you think missing a jump eight times in a row because you bumped your head on a pixel is an acceptable level of frustration from an action game, Gear World is a great diversion for your weekend afternoon!
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