They Need To Be Fed 2 is a workmanlike follow-up to 2011’s gravity-based platform puzzler that offers enough new tweaks and visual flourishes to rope in series fans, while boasting a wealth of content (close to 100 levels with remixed stages in “Epic” mode) and a simplicity of design that should be an appealing proposition to newcomers.
Running along the outside of – and hopping between – platforms with their own gravitational pull, the goal is to guide your suicidal silhouette to the plant waiting hungrily at the top of the food chain and the end of each bite-size stage. It’s not as easy as it sounds, of course, with all manner of timed traps and treachery, from spiked platforms to scurrying foes, obscuring your path to an honourable death.
The series has a unique visual identity which, along with its gameplay, is indebted to titles outside of the Apple ecosystem (its debut was in the PC indie scene). There’s the Patapon aesthetic, all blocky colour and thick matte black, the LocoRoco-esque leaps and bounds and the crisp, hip audio design of Sound Shapes. Couple this trinity of overt SCE inspiration with the infrequent but irksome nightmare of the controls – the game is crying out for a D-pad to help navigate disorienting instances of juggling reflex and logic-based tasks on the underside of a platform where controls are inverted, for example – and you can’t help but feel They Need To Be Fed would be more at home on, say, PS Vita.
A level design and stylistic triumph but often a frustrating puzzler for the wrong reasons, They Need To Be Fed 2 is a good iOS game. But it could become a great game if it mimicked its hero and jumped to other platforms.