It’s hard to derive much enjoyment from spending just $1 these days.
You can get a candy bar, a small soft drink or maybe a pack of gum. You can also get Ooga Jump, a pocket platformer for iOS from developer Bolt Creative, the creators of Pocket God.
The game puts you in charge of a pygmy named Ooga as you use platforms to jump higher and higher into the sky, collecting boosts and dodging enemies on the way by tilting your iOS device and power bouncing into the stratosphere.
On your ascent, you collect gems that can be used to buy power ups as well as buy back into a session if your Ooga falls to his death. The game tracks your high score in the game center, which compares high scores among your friends and globally.
Just like a pack of gum, however, Ooga Jump loses its flavor rather quickly.
If all you’re looking for is an hour of mindless entertainment, Ooga Jump will probably fulfill your needs. Its controls are simple, and I didn’t encounter any bugs while playing. The game’s visuals are fine, and some might even call the game “cute.”
But it fails to introduce new challenges, which makes progression a bore, and the game’s in-app purchases completely invalidate any sort of score tracking.
As I jumped higher into the sky, I kept expecting the enemies to get either more difficult or at least increase in number. But you seemingly meet the same set of enemies at 1000-plus elevation as you do at the beginning.
The game’s enemies aren’t particularly challenging either, except for the spiders. Those will kill you about half the time you meet them, and it’s usually entirely out of your control.
The other half of the times you die will probably be from just losing interest in your current attempt. When the game fails to introduce anything to spice up gameplay at higher elevation, it just feels like an endless slog into the air.
Finally, Ooga Jump’s in-app store is completely destructive to anyone who can stay interested in this game long enough to go for a high score.
The game allows players to buy gems outside of earning them by playing. You can get 2,000 gems for 99 cents or 13,000 for $4.99. This completely dwarfs the amount of gems you actually earn playing the game, so it’s the only real way to buy most of the items in the store.
The cosmetic upgrades available in the store like pygmy skins and map backgrounds aren’t the problem—those are perfectly acceptable forms of in-app purchases.
But remember, gems are used to directly buy back into a session after dying. Not only that, but they can also buy items that nullify certain enemies, give enormous head starts and skip objectives.
What’s the point of even having a leaderboard if you can just buy your way to the top?
Obviously, Ooga Jump wasn’t intended to have a serious competition for the top score in the world. But in a game for which the only objective is to jump as high as possible, being able to buy your way to the top just cheapens the experience.
Ooga Jump provides about as much entertainment as you could expect for its price. But it doesn’t do anything new or interesting, and it gets boring fast.
For $1, I’d just go with the pack of gum.