Rasta Monkey iPhone, iPod Touch Review
Monkeys are one of the most playful creatures, and Rastafarians are one of the most laid-back religious movements, so a Rasta Monkey is of course the most joyful being ever created. Thankfully, rather than lounging around smoking Ganga and praising Haile Selassie, this particular RastaMon(key) enjoys swinging around in the treetops of the “jungle of Jamdown”.
Rasta Monkey’s father, General Rastamonkey the 3rd, has a problem. He’s too old to collect fruit with which to make his special fruitshake. So, it’s down to you to climb from branch to branch to fulfil his requests for collecting a particular number of each fruit on every level.
The controls are so simple that even a monkey could manage them or at lease a great ape with some training could have a good bash at it. To swing left you touch anywhere on the left side of the screen, and vice versa. Touching anywhere in the top half of the screen makes Rasta Monkey run along the top of the branch, and consequently the bottom half of the screen causes him to swing along underneath the branches.
But the move that you’ll be using most often, and the crux of most of the gameplay in Rasta Monkey, is jumping. This is performed simply by touching both sides of the screen at once, making the little simian whirl himself round in a circle. The challenge then is to let go at the right moment so that the cheeky chappy flings himself in the correct direction.
The happy Rasta Monkey automatically clings onto any branch, vine or spaceship (naturally) that he touches, and you cannot adjust his trajectory whilst in mid-flight, so getting your timing right is all you really need to worry about. There are ten levels and only the first two provide you with a guide arrow showing where the monkey will flip off to when you let go of the screen.
The learning curve is quite steep, as many jumps will require quite precise angles and timing. You’ll be falling down to “de pits of Babylon” a lot after the first few levels. Luckily the flags that act as checkpoints (in the red, green and gold Ethiopian colours naturally) are generously scattered across the levels, and there is no penalty for death. In fact, you get to keep any fruit that you’ve already picked up.
There are a couple of enemies in Rasta Monkey, all of which try to knock the title character to his doom, and who all share the same brightly-coloured exuberant design style as the rest of the game. Some like the thematically-named Spider Anansi can also be fought back against by trying to knock them off the branch first. All of this is set to a background melody of upbeat dub music that suits the visuals perfectly.
Despite the playful presentation of Rasta Monkey, the game can be frustrating at times, especially when you’re tasking with pulling a lever and making some difficult jumps before an entrance closes in your face.
Also, new gameplay elements aren’t introduced until the last two levels, and although flicking your monkey (is that a euphemism?) around like a pinball and pachinko ball is an enjoyable change of pace, you get the feeling that the developers ran out of time to include all of the ideas that they had.
Although each level usually contains some surplus fruit that can be collected for bonus points, your scores aren’t recorded and there is no real replay value apart from the general pleasure you can have from swinging around.
For its current cost, Rasta Monkey provides a good couple of playful hours with some thin layers of repetition and frustration. Maybe we’ll see more games based around cute religious animals from now on, Rabbi Squirrel or Hasidic Jew Sealion perhaps? Nevertheless, I an’ I like de likkle monkey dey.