The Other Brothers
3D Attack Interactive
iPhone (3GS, 4, 4S, 5), iPod touch (3rd, 4th, 5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. This app is optimised for iPhone 5.
Age Rating: 9+
With its combination of challenging platforming mechanics and iconic (if unlikely) heroes, the Mario Brothers took the world by storm in the early 80s. Now, three decades later, many of the same tropes that the Mario Brothers first pioneered are still alive and well. It’s important to know your video game history when you play a game like 3D Attack Interactive’s $1.99 The Other Brothers, which is really a love letter to not only to the Super Mario Brothers series, but iconic platformers of old. It’s also, despite its seeming periodic origins, a great, challenging platformer in its own right with a classic art style and compelling world.
Mechanics Joe and Jim witness the kidnapping of a woman by two mafia types, and decide to give chase. Yes, they have overalls, and they attack enemies mainly by jumping on their heads, but aside from these not-so-subtle nods, the game draws from various sources and even muscles in some genuinely original moments. You can see level design that seems reminiscent of Earthworm Jim and Shank, but you’ll also fight a giant mafia robot atop a boiling tide of minestrone soup – so there are some things that even seasoned vets will be surprised by.
I appreciate that the game doesn’t take place on Chaos Isle, Marioland or some other fantasyland. Your enemies are gun-wielding mafia hit men, police offers, rabid dogs and varied environmental challenges, which makes the game a bit grittier, or perhaps real-world, then the bizarre imaginary lands conjured up by golden era platformers.
The health mechanic is a bit fanciful, if clever. When hit, your character releases all of the pigeons he has collected. Like rings from Sonic the Hedgehog, if you don’t have any pigeons and are hit, you’re dead. And pigeons are a bit more flighty than rings, so you’ll have to move fast to reclaim health. Thankfully, the fictional cityscape that Joe and Jim occupy is like any modern city and pigeons are never too far away.
Each level should only take you a few minutes to complete, but you’ll likely want to replay it to get the highest score possible and then unlock additional content, like the second brother, Jim. The missions are brimming with enemies, pits, water obstacles, mines and dozens of other ways to die. You’ll swim, explore sewers, throw wrenches and utilise the various light sources in the game to better see your foes.
But if there’s one complaint I have, it’s that the level design is so cramped and the missions so short that the pacing seems too frenetic. You never get a chance to take a breath and strategise your next move, as there’s always a chance a flying boulder will come hurling out of the darkness.
The soundtrack isn’t particularly memorable other than being upbeat chiptunes fare, but the retro graphics make the game feel both familiar and distinctive. The street lights, rain, attack dogs, scuba divers and toxic waste all combine into a creative and fun world to explore.
As for the controls, I had some real difficulty with the default control scheme, which greatly resembles a digital version of the old Nintendo controller: a four-way direction pad and two virtual buttons. But since the game requires climbing segments, ladders and other upward movements, the four-way directional pad is sticky and often led to frustrating game-overs. Once I changed the controls to the floating analogue option, the navigation problems largely disappeared.
While it’s easy to dismiss The Other Brothers as a cheap parody of a classic game, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Other Brothers is a fun, imaginative platformer worthy of praise on its own, easily jumping into the conversation as one of the best mobile platform games of all time. With great art direction, a fantastic sense of humour and a development team that seems ready to constantly build on the world with new content, I think these Other Brothers are worth a download.
by Chris Holt, Macworld