Leaf Bound, developed by Pixel Stream, invites comparisons to Doodle Jump, another vertical jumping game that’s taken the App Store by storm. Like Doodle Jump, Leaf Bound certainly entertains. But it lacks the kind of replay value that will keep you coming back for more.
In Leaf Bound, the main character Yuri sets out to destroy the evil mechanical monkeys that have been terrorizing her land. Yuri has a vertical leap any NBA star would kill for, an affinity for spicy foods and a disdain for robot monkeys. Dispatching these pesky primates is as simple as bouncing off their heads but requires some slick maneuvering and timing.
The goal in Leaf Bound is to make it to the top of each level and defeat the boss waiting for you there. Yuri has the energy of an eight-year-old, as she is constantly jumping without tiring. To progress to the top of the level, you bound from one slowly falling leaf to the next, climbing ever higher. Aside from the leaves, you can jump off the heads of monkeys or the occasional ledge in your journey to the top.
One misstep though, and Yuri goes into a free-fall toward the ground. Falling doesn’t cause Yuri any damage; it just means she’ll have to regain the lost progress—which is tracked by a progress bar on the left side of the screen.
This whole process is made much more difficult by the meddling monkeys along the way. They love hurling coconuts, lightning bolts and anything else they can get their grubby little hands on. Taking a hit from one of these primate projectiles means losing a heart. Hearts represent your health, and once they’re all gone, it’s game over.
Luckily, scattered throughout the levels are all types of food. Collecting any three food items replaces one heart. That’s all well and good, but what really gets Yuri going is spicy food. Collecting three hot sauce bottles or three red peppers gives you temporary invincibility and increases your jumping height.
There are eight different levels to play through—each with its own boss waiting at the end. The levels all have their own theme and progress in difficulty as you advance.
Leaf Bound also features two game play modes—Campaign and Arcade. In Campaign mode, you play through the levels in sequential order; Arcade lets you play any level at any time.
You control the direction Yuri jumps in by one of two methods: swiping your finger left or right or tilting your iPhone or iPod touch in the appropriate direction. Jumping is automatic. The swipe method worked OK, but your finger can get in the way. The tilt controls worked like a charm; you’ve also got the option of adjusting the tilt sensitivity of the game.
The graphics in Leaf Bound are done in a refreshing anime style that fits the game. Each level sports its own unique background image that is slightly blurred for a nice sense of depth. The sound effects and different music for each level are nicely done and complement the Leaf Bound’s cheerful atmosphere.
All this adds up to an entertaining game, though not one you’re likely to keep coming back to over time. Leaf Bound doesn’t take very long to beat, and I don’t see a whole lot of replay value in it. Yet at $1, Leaf Bound is one of those games that make the time you spend waiting in line or commuting to work fly by.
[Tim Mercer is a technology enthusiast, graphic designer, and blogger, whose blog, digital-artist-toolbox.com, offers free resources to the digital artist and graphic designer.]