Pocket Climber (iOS) review

Pocket Climber is an iOS game from PunchBox Studios. It’s available now as a free, ad-supported download from the App Store, and carries additional in-app purchases of in-game currency.

Pocket Climber is, at heart, a 3D “endless running” game similar to titles like Temple Run. In a slight twist on the usual formula, however, the player character in Pocket Climber is scaling a huge, architecturally diverse and probably quite unsafe skyscraper by leaping from ledge to ledge. The player must ensure that the climber stays safe by swiping left and right to move between “lanes” and avoid obstacles, and swiping up to “jump” over obstacles that appear immediately in front of them. Obstacles vary from open windows preventing sideways jumps through window-cleaning cradles to residents of the building flinging barrels and sofas out of their windows. Every so often, the tower changes its architectural aesthetic, and the obstacles also change their appearance accordingly.

Like most other endless runners, Pocket Climber allows players to collect in-game currency as they play. This may either be spent in the in-game store to unlock and upgrade various special abilities or cosmetic items, or spent immediately upon failing in order to continue where they left off. There is no hard limit to how many times a player may continue in a single session — so long as they have the currency on hand to spare, they may keep continuing indefinitely, though the price increases rapidly as they proceed up the tower, and spending money on continuing means that is money that can’t be spent on upgrades or other special items.

Pocket Climber is built for social, competitive play. Upon completing a run, the player may share their score on Facebook or Twitter — the former initially connects via the external Facebook app and subsequently through a pop-up window, while the latter uses iOS 5+’s built-in functionality. The default tweet has a spelling mistake in it and also starts with an @-mention of the Pocket Climber Twitter account, which means anyone who doesn’t already follow Pocket Climber won’t see it. If PunchBox is hoping to use this functionality as a form of viral promotion — and apparently they are, since both the Twitter and Facebook posts carry a direct App Store link to download the game — then they need to fix this in an update, as they can’t necessarily rely on players correcting it every time they post a score.

Pocket Climber also has Game Center leaderboard support, though for some reason this is only presented on the game’s title screen, not on the post-game results screen. Users running iOS 6 may make use of the new Challenge functionality to directly compete against their friends for a high score. The large number of people with identical, massive scores at the top of the global leaderboard suggests that, as usual, there is a considerable amount of score-hacking going on, but players with enough friends playing may ignore this easily and concentrate on beating people they know. In a future update, PunchBox would do well to make the leaderboards more prominent, as this will help encourage players to check in on the game more often in an attempt to compete against their friends.

Pocket Climber is a fun, decent quality game with good audio-visual presentation — it just needs a bit of polish here and there, particularly with regard to spellings in the in-game text and Twitter functionality. The “climbing” aspect provides an interesting twist on the usual endless running formula, and the user figures certainly seem to suggest it’s a big success so far — Game Center claims that there are over 1.3 million players. It’s certainly a proven formula, and proof positive that players apparently aren’t tired of the endless running genre just yet.

Pocket Climber is currently ranked at No. 10 in Top Free Apps and No. 5 in Top Free Games. Its iPad counterpart is currently ranked at No. 7 in Top Free iPad Apps and is the No. 1 free iPad game at the time of writing. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.

Play

A decent entry in a genre with enduring popularity — albeit one that could do with a bit of polish here and there.

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