So what exactly would happen if the heavens decided to fall apart and the stars vanished from the night sky? Isn’t the answer obvious? A small white blob going by the name of Little Luca would squelch to the rescue, of course!
Little Luca is the debut of Glowingpine Studios, two Swedish brothers whose aim was to create simplistic yet intriguing concepts. Taking on the role of a heroic bouncy ball, your task is to progress through no less than 90 dexterity-testing levels. Each level is resplendent in retro-inspired pixel art graphics, harking back to the golden age of mobile gaming. Mash the classic pixel look together with smooth physics and challenging level design, and you have an utterly fixating experience.
To achieve Little Luca’s exercise in star collecting, you must travel through three different realms: The Hills, In Orbit and Under the Ocean. Each domain is made up of 30 themed levels that contain various ways to boing, blow and blast your way around, grabbing the missing stars on the way.
One single touch activates all elements on screen, making for nearly endless ways to play each level. You’ll use gelatinous blobs to springboard Luca across the world, whilst controlling the power of wind at the tap of the screen gives players a multitude of ways to complete each puzzle. Needless to say the game starts off simple with just a few elements to play with whilst you learn the ropes, but quickly progresses to provide a greater challenge.
Gravity wells, tractor beams, portals and man-eating planets all make for an interesting experience of outer space-themed levels, followed by the volcanic eruption madness that happens under the ocean! I couldn’t help but think that the volcanoes and portals looked like they needed a little more spit shine to match the overall graphical quality of the rest of the game.
Like all puzzle games there’s always that one level that you get stuck on and give up hope for a little while, and Little Luca is no exception here. You’ve got the option to skip levels as you go but if you want to explore the more complex realms with Luca, you really can’t afford to do this as each star contributes towards unlocking the next realm. This is a key aspect of the game as it really spurs you on to catch as many stars as possible. Many times I had to walk away from my iPad in frustration, only to pick it up again seconds later to give it another go.
In other similar puzzle games the more stars you collect the higher the score, but Little Luca takes setting high scores a step further. The quicker a level gets finished, the more points you win as a bonus. Obviously this kept me entertained for hours, trying to out-do myself again and again. This release is most definitely one that will have you revisiting every level to max out the high score.
Not only is the gameplay positively habit-forming because it’s virtually impossible to do the same thing twice, Little Luca is accompanied by what I can only describe as ‘the perfect soundtrack’. The cheery and upbeat chiptune that complements the vibrant colors of each level, is a nostalgia-trip – a throwback to the days of 8-bit gaming at it’s best. Chirpy tunes abound seem to alter effortlessly from realm to realm, reflecting the atmosphere of the game superbly.
By all accounts, Little Luca certainly doesn’t fall short of achieving Glowingpine Studios’ goals. Plus, there’s a planned release of free content in future updates, providing plenty of bounce for your buck! I dare you to not get addicted.
Little Luca is available to everyone on both iOS and Android devices, for the pittance of $0.99. Check out the official website and grab your copy from the App Store now!
[review pros=”Chirpy chiptune soundtrack, polished pixel-art graphics and huge replay-ability.” cons=”Volcanoes and portals could have been better animated, Slightly frustrating at times” score=92]