Jelly Pops Review—Sounds Soft but Is Hard

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Truly, most Minis developers are on a mission to punish gamers. This is the third straight time that I’m reviewing a game with elevated difficulty. Admittedly, PomPom GamesJelly Pops is the easiest one to play when you juxtapose it with the obnoxious Kaleidoscope and the quarter-hungry Alpha Mission. Maybe Jelly Pops feels like it’s easier since you know what you’re doing and the instructions are already given on the get-go. Maybe it’s because the core gameplay is straightforward. Maybe it’s because it has the quickest pace among the three.

Or, maybe it’s all because of the spinning, colourful circles that made me believe that Jelly Pops is an amazing little game that I can’t resist playing until I stop dreaming about it.

Jelly Pops is somewhat like Snake using the Formation Z formula, with a lot of additional complications. You control a snake-like creature traversing a breathtaking environment. The background imagery is amazing, but the in-game graphics are not. The snake-like creature you’re controlling is hideous; it looks like it belongs in a Powerpoint presentation.

The basic premise of the game is that you have to survive the journey by consuming multicolored circles as you move from left to right. The immediate reason behind my earlier Snake allusion was solely that the player character definitely looks like a, well, serpent. The part where you must “eat” circles justifies my Snake knee-jerk reaction. Also, the game states that the thing you are controlling is called “Snake,” so my hasty conclusion is backed with proof. The Formation Z part of the game is the requirement that you must keep on “eating” Life Forces in order to survive. Just like in Formation Z, you must keep on refueling yourself so that you can keep going; however, Jelly Pops is an “obstacle avoidance” type of game, while Formation Z is a side-scrolling shooter in the style of the Super Dimension Fortress Macross Famicom game (AKA To Start Push). I have to admit, comparisons to Formation Z may be questionable, but I couldn’t think of any other game similar to this. I believe that there are lots of games that play like Jelly Pops, but I haven’t played any of them yet.

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You guide the snake using the analog nub or the D-pad. You can’t “go back,” as this game is sort of like an on-rails shooter. Come think of it, I could have compared Jelly Pops to Panzer Dragoon, since the Snake is like a wingless dragon. But that would be borderline insane. Back on topic, you can speed up by pressing X, but it’s not available at the start. You must earn a stage medal first before you unlock the boost, and then you can only use the boost in that level. Meaning the game is a trial and error grindfest. Effectively, in order to finish a level, you must unlock the boost first. Aside from the fact that the number of Life Forces (the fuel) you can collect per stage is barely enough to let you finish that stage, the boost allows you to zoom through a level while keeping your stamina. Also, if you unlock the score medal, the stage will be filled with “Spirits.” Doesn’t really do anything but add to your score. Everything is a stage-by-stage affair, so the game feels longer than it is.

There are only eight levels, but it feels like there are more. First, each level features a lot of stages. Second, the game is score-based, so you will be pursuing high scores. Third, achievements are listed, so there’s room for replay value. Finally, the game is not easy, further extending the longevity. You will have a hard time completing everything, much as I did. In fact, I haven’t completed the game yet, but the review is long overdue. There are other Minis that are waiting to be reviewed.

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The game reinvents itself every level. At first, all you have to do is collect Life Forces and bonus points. Later, you get to slither through spikes to get Life Forces enclosed within them. Then, you have to string together circles of the same color in order to get the most out of the Life Forces (it’s kind of hard to explain further). And then you have to use a “ball” to bounce around the screen in order to destroy spikes and collect the Life Forces. Later, complicated elements arise, like having everything moving instead of remaining stationary, while some creature is shooting plasma balls at you as you are doing everything I mentioned earlier.

Levels are only unlocked if you have enough medals earned. The medal requirements are not impossible to attain, but finishing a level may be. This makes playing Jelly Pops rewarding, since you can jump into the next level without first completing the previous level. I could go on replaying a Jelly Pops level and wouldn’t get disgusted by it.

The music in the game is dynamic, as it is supposed to adapt to reflect what is happening in the game. I don’t like it, but that’s my opinion. As for the visuals, I am not a graphics whore, but certainly this game begs for anti-aliasing and graphical improvements.

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Jelly Pops is indeed an addictive game and will satiate, ironically, the OC-completionists with its bevy of achievements and stats. The controls are good, and the hitbox is merciful, so when you fail, you can rest assured it’s your own fault. However, this Mini is kind of expensive for what it offers. The Plus subscribers had this for free, those lucky bastards.

8/10

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Comments

5 Responses to “Jelly Pops Review—Sounds Soft but Is Hard”
  1. onmode-ky says:

    “I believe that there are lots of games that play like Jelly Pops, but I haven’t played any of them yet.”

    I would liken this game to a typical racing game. You have to avoid obstacles (other cars) and can only keep playing as long as you continue to get certain objects along the path (checkpoints for EXTENDED PLAY).

    Also, I’ve actually never heard of Formation Z before this. Briefly confused it with Section Z.

  2. Jasper Nikki says:

    Jelly Pops doesn’t have checkpoints and when you hit any spike it’s game over and you have to start at the beginning again. Should have noted that in the review. I initially thought that I should compare this game with Road Fighter. HAHA.

  3. onmode-ky says:

    Well, no, I didn’t mean Jelly Pops had checkpoints, rather that the requirement that you get the Life Force things in order to keep going was similar to the requirement in a racing game to reach checkpoints in order to keep racing.

  4. JeremyR says:

    That thing on the left side of the screen makes it look like an old Atari 2600 game…

  5. onmode-ky says:

    Haha, the black lines on the left edge of the screen! Nice!

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