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If your idea of the perfect iPhone game is something that combines films with a platform game, then Ready Action might just be the game for you. It might not contain any revolutionary gameplay elements, but it does have one essential ingredient: it's quite good fun to play... at least for a while.
The game sees you taking the role of "Jimmy", a wannabe movie star. In order to prove himself to directors, Jimmy has to take part in a series of "scenes" from different film genres (sci-fi, action films etc.). Essentially, this involves running from left to right, fighting or jumping over enemies and making your way to the end of the scene before the time limit runs out. Along the way, gold coins can be collected which can be exchanged for extra time by popping into phone boxes scattered around each level.
So far, so generic, but Ready Action brings such a sense of style to the genre that it helps it stand out in an overcrowded market. Presentation is excellent, making really good use of the iPhone's graphic and sound capabilities. Graphics are presented in a fun, cartoon-like style; bright and colourful with lots of character and quite cute in an odd sort of way. Characters are well animated and fluid and well defined so when you are running along, it's easy to establish which bits are enemies which need to be killed or avoided, and which are just bits of scenery.
Sound is similarly top notch. A pulsating, vibrant tune plays and really adds to frantic atmosphere. The frenetic pace of the tune is the perfect accompaniment and makes you feel like you are involved in a race against time to reach the end of the level. Similarly, as your time counts down from 10 seconds a warning hooter sounds, inducing a sense of panic as you disparity try to the next checkpoint in time.
Coins make a nice ringing noise as you collect them, there's a satisfying "thump" as you wallop enemies and some really good, clear speech that urges you on. In-game dialogue boxes provide a vague sense of plot progression (together with some unintended laughs, thanks to some mis-translated dialogue).
Controls are kept simple which works to the game's advantage. A left and right arrow controls movement with separate buttons are used to jump or punch. These are really well laid out, with enough space between them to ensure that you won't accidentally press the wrong one, but close enough so that you can easily slide your finger between them easily. Although the buttons are made up of solid colours (rather than the transparent, virtual joystick approach preferred by most developers) they are well-placed so that they don't obscure crucial parts of the screen.
There's some nicely balanced game play that offers a degree of replayability once you have completed all the levels. Some contain a number of different routes, some of which are easier to complete than others so the player has a strategic decision to make: do you go for the trickier (but potentially more rewarding) route or play it safe and take the easier route, which will result in a lower score?
The idea of exchanging coins for extra time mid-level is a good gameplay technique too. It effectively gives you unlimited lives. Most of the time, if you hit an enemy you simply lose some coins (and time), but are free to carry on. Only if you have no coins is hitting an enemy fatal. This means you have to carefully weigh your need for extra time against your need to keep some coins back in case of collision and gives the game a slightly deeper, more tactical element than its simple platform origins initially suggest.
Levels are relatively short (typically around 2 minutes each) so it's a game you can dip in and out of whenever you feel like it. It's not one that you'll play for long periods, but it's fun to fire it up now and again for a quick burst of madcap platforming action.
The game's real problem is its long term appeal. There are also quite a lot of levels built in and they will take a reasonable time to get through. However, there is a question mark over whether you will want to. Essentially, other than the graphics, there is little variation between levels and it can soon become repetitive. It's fun to play at first, but after a while, the appeal starts to wane It's probably one of those (many) iPhone titles that you will play a lot when you first download it and then never touch again. But then with a download cost of just 69p, you can afford to take that risk.
If you're after a platform game that offers something a little different, then Ready Action won't disappoint you. Long term appeal is limited, but it's definitely one of the better examples of the platform genre on the iPhone.
(c) Copyright SWSt 2011