Jelly Car 2 Review- Squishy
Disney Interactive Studio’s Jelly Car 2 (like its predecessor) is a widely known iPhone/iPod Touch app. It has distinctive gameplay which mixes racing, platforming and puzzle-solving. Though it only touches the surface of each of the mentioned genres, its squishy, soft body physics binds them all with a spellbinding effect.
The game gained extreme popularity with the touchscreen-based control system of the iPhone/iPod Touch. At first, I was suspicious of how the controls would be implemented on the PSP. Jelly Car first appeared as a Windows game, and the keyboard was the control scheme. It surely wouldn’t be difficult on the PSP, right?
The game utilizes hand-drawn art and kindergarten crayon colors which complement the squishy physics of the game. Even in the menu, the names of the game modes are animated soft blocks, with a gelatinous car bouncing around and dislodging them every now and then.
You can customize the cars from chassis to tire colors. There is a considerable wait when entering and exiting menus, but it doesn’t hurt the experience; it is just noticeable. There are three gameplay modes: Classic Mode, Long Jump Mode and Factory Mode. Also, there is a tutorial that really helps a lot, especially in introducing the highly responsive controls: X moves the car forward; Square moves the car backward; Up and Down zoom the camera in and out; Left and Right rotate the car to overcome platforms and hurdles. The L button enlarges the car for a span of time, and R is for releasing the balloon (Triangle can also be utilized). Circle allows you to use the sticky tires that will make the car climb up walls.
The Classic Mode is a race to the finish line, chasing your own quickest time. There are three difficulty settings: the classic Easy, Medium and Hard. Each of these has a different set of levels with great variation. The levels have varied obstacles like rotating pillow-like bars, moving platforms, and gaps, among other things.
The jelly car can sustain damage and explode (not really). You are not going to reach the finish line if you let the car roll down and fall. Also, Game Over is served to those who fall into the pits. There is as well an additional mode, Tilt, my personal favorite, where it’s the same as the Classic Mode except you are riding a snowboard! A car on a snowboard!
In Classic Mode alone, the game eats up a lot of time. There is a lot of trial and error, but because everything is so squishy, it is not frustrating. Amazingly, no matter how many times I fail in the Slow Spin (one of the levels in the Hard difficulty), I’m still having a lot of fun; it’s almost masochistic.
In the Long Jump Mode, you try to launch yourself as far as possible with the help of momentum and spinning wheels. There are only three levels here, and I don’t find this mode as appealing as the Classic Mode. Long Jump Mode serves only as a supplement.
Then there is the Factory Mode, which has no cars. It’s weird. Factory Mode just lets you rotate certain shapes in order to sort the falling pieces into their respective categories (colors). This is a one-level mode. The Factory Mode is a good idea, but I don’t see it fitting in the package. It feels more like a demo of another title.
And finally, there is the Level Editor, where you can create custom levels. Of course, the Minis program has no online capability to share your custom levels, and it’s a shame. I’ve spent a lot of time creating my own levels. Naturally, that’s because it does require patience and a lot of balancing, rotating and all that jazz to make your level playable (for your own consumption).
Jelly Car 2 is a well conceived game that is simple but “non-frustratingly” challenging. The hiccups are noticeable but don’t break the game, as it only happens when browsing the menu. The controls are good, and it has a Hall of Fame to boast your achievements; however, the lack of online sharing is a letdown. Of course, that is not the game’s fault.