Imagine if Super Meat Boy and Dance Dance Revolution had a baby. The imagined result is perhaps not a little black blob jumping from platform to platform backed by a techno soundtrack, but Give it Up! 2 still fits that description pretty closely.
Give it Up! 2 is a rhythm/platforming game developed by Invictus Games for iPhone and iPad. This little one dollar game is the sequel of the well received Give it Up!, and provides an unforgiving challenge for both new and returning players. Using the game’s simple mechanics, you control a blob that automatically jumps forward from one platform to the next, following the rhythm of the music. The only way you have to control the movements of the blob is tapping the screen right when the little fuzzy character touches the ground. This action will have different effects depending on the platform he lands on. If the next platform is at the same level of the blob, tapping the screen will make him skip it, which is useful to jump over gaps and spikes. Tapping the screen, will also allow you to step up a platform higher than you, preventing an unnecessary premature death to your blob.
The game’s simple mechanics hide much more complexity than you’d think it possesses at first glance. The stages of the game are filled with obstacles. Spikes and moving platforms are around every corner and the game proceeds at a fast pace. A single mistake will cause your blob to be impaled, fall in a pit, or splat against a high platform.
Every stage in the game is composed of an easy, medium and hard track. At the start of each try, you’ll start in the easy track and you’ll discover a purple jumping platform right off the bat. Jump on it and you’ll head to the medium track. Jump on the purple platform you find there and you then reach the hard track. As you might imagine, the higher the track, the higher the risk, and the greater the reward. The background music will also change slightly depending on the difficulty you choose as you play.
Give it Up! 2 follows the common three stars rating systems we have grown so accustomed to in mobile games. During every stage, you’ll collect stars on your path, with each one increasing the rating you’ll receive at the end. You’ll need ten points for a star, thirty for two stars and fifty for three stars. Coincidentally, each rating corresponds exactly with the easy, medium and hard tracks. This means that if you want to do the medium track and get two stars, you can’t skip a single point. Some levels allow you to go to higher or lower tracks as you progress, so skipping a point in a medium track forces you to jump on the hard track to (hopefully) recover your losses and then step down again. If you can’t do that and end up skipping a point, you’ll have to restart the level to get the rating you desire. Sadly, the game lacks a restart button, which means that the quickest way to restart is ramming your head into the first obstacle available like a hyperactive kid without adult supervision.
As I have mentioned above, the game is both challenging and unforgiving. I have no problems with either of these things, but I feel that the game can be overly unfair at certain points. There are blue moving platforms that move predictably every couple of beats and I have no problem with those. I do have a problem with platforms that look exactly like normal ones, but then change altitude the moment you step on the platform two steps below it. This is a game about reflexes, but I can’t shake the feeling that even trained players would find the reaction time needed in these situations would be hard to achieve.
Another problem area are the glass platforms, which are blue platforms that may or may not break right before you step on them. Just like the moving platforms, the ones that are supposed to break will start to crack when you get close while the others are safe to step onto. You’ll have very little time to realize that the platform is cracking and tap the screen to save yourself. There is no way to tell which of the platforms will break and which ones are safe until you actually reach them. Of course, the unsafe platforms are not randomized, so you’ll be able to memorize which ones break over multiple playthroughs.
The issue with these two examples is that by giving the player so little time to react to an unsafe platform that looks like any other, the designers have detracted from the skill necessary to master the game. The only way past some of the stages is to die and die again to memorize where the dangers are, making the game less skill-based and leaning heavily into trial and error.
Some may consider this to be an example of artificial difficulty, but it’s not too bad considering that death has no penalty aside from having to run the stage again. You will need to try each stage over and over considering that you need twenty-two stars to advance to the next set of nine stages. That means that you have to gain two stars in five stages and three stars in the other four stages of the first set to unlock the second. Considering how hard the game can get in the higher tracks, the bar for progression has been set very high. Of course you can buy the next nine stages if you don’t have the patience to complete the current ones, but chances are those are gonna be even harder so your best bet is to get there by beating the ones you have unlocked so you’re ready for the challenge.
Aside from stars, you can collect coins in every stage that can be used to unlock additional characters. These are basically differently colored/shaped blobs and the difference from the default one is only cosmetic. Unlike points, you’ll not lose coins if you die before the end of the level. Coins can be anywhere on the track and often you’ll have to skip a couple of stars to get them. This means that most of the times you’ll have to choose between gathering coins or actually beating the level.
Give it Up! 2 also gives you a daily challenge that you can perform in order to compete with your friends and the global leaderboards. Usually the thing that characterizes daily challenges in many games is that it’s a make it or break it mentality. However, in this game it would be unreasonable to make a challenge where you only get one try. So in Give it Up! 2 you can try the daily as many times you want and your position will depend on the number of tries you needed to beat it.
The soundtrack in Give it Up! 2 is really catchy. It has a good rhythm and really helps you to tap at the right time. It doesn’t have a lot of variety but it doesn’t need to. The point of using the same track is that you grow accustomed to it so following the rhythm becomes a second nature after a while.
Give it Up! 2 has a couple of minor design flaws, but they don’t prevent you from coming back from time to time for a little more punishment. It is simultaneously challenging and fun, provided you manage to get the hang of it.
You can buy Give it Up! 2 for $0.99 from iTunes
This game has been provided by the developer and reviewed on an iPhone 5.
Give it Up! 2 is a fun little game that will satiate your thirst of challenge. A couple of design choices make it frustrating at times.