Melding the core distinctions of two of my favorite iPhone titles - Hoggy and Canabalt - is Gravity Guy by Miniclip, which released in December and was updated last week to introduce multiplayer.
Like Hoggy, Gravity Guy is a platformer where you invert gravity to navigate obstacles, rather than jump. Like Canabalt, it's a one-touch game only, with your motion and momentum automatic and your objective to run as fast and as far as you can, executing your leaps (or gravity flips) with perfect timing. Narratively speaking, you have broken out of a futuristic lab, or office, or prison, and are on the run from cops who also have gravity-flipping technology, and will zap you with a laser gun if they catch up.
Gravity Guy's campaign mode supplies endless action in its own way, chiefly through unlimited respawns and "levels" that are essentially save points over a huge platform map. When you soar off the board or if you're caught by the gravity cop behind you, it is back to the checkpoint's beginning. These are moderately spread apart but when you hit a challenging sequence of flips and fail them on the 12th retry, always going back to the beginning is a reminder of the game's old school expectations.
So it is a demanding twitch-game. The key to survival in Gravity Guy is simply knowing when not to flip gravity. Oftentimes I swap my position in an extended run because it felt like what I was supposed to do. Then I'd get hung on an obstruction and zapped by the cop, or wind up completely out of position for the big jump. There were a few moments where, focusing in, I felt like I had the game's pacing figured out.
Ultimately, I didn't. I got roughly 10 "levels" in before I hit a sequence that, coupled with a speed power-up required some precision jumps akin to Battletoads' infamous jet-ski level. Give the devil its due, it may be a demanding game but it's consistent in what it expects. The harder levels present the combination of a memorizable obstacle path that still requires perfect timing to navigate. It requires a good blend of course knowledge and skill but it is not at all forgiving of mistakes in either department.
An endless mode presents you with a Gravity Guy run more akin to Canabalt, in which the objective is simply to go as far as you can. Multiplayer, the new feature included in version 1.2, might be a little cramped for the iPhone or iPod Touch if you're playing locally. Two runners are given specific regions to tap as they travel the same course, with the objective to run further than your teammate. Up to four players are supported. There is online multiplayer through the Apple GameCenter.
My only quibble is, in story mode, the only means of restarting the journey is to wipe all of your high scores across all modes locally (your all time high is preserved on Game Center, if you enable that.)
For those who enjoyed Hoggy and/or Canabalt - both tough platformers in their own right - or who are just platform connossieurs, there's a lot to appreciate in Gravity Guy and the 99 cent pricetag makes it well worth a try. It's a difficult game, but it can also be difficult to put down.
Gravity Guy [iTunes]