Stealing an evil mastermind’s throne is never a good idea, especially when you’re a puny, soluble sugar cube, and it’s clear that Sugar Kid is in for a rough ride when the BulkyPix-developed puzzle game opens with the question “do you like some gore?” (which can be turned on or off according to taste.)
Happily, the game doesn’t disappoint following this auspicious start, and throughout its ninety-plus levels, Sugar Kid peppers sickeningly cute graphics with an abundance of blood and guts in a simple and repetitive but altogether fun pick-up-and-play title. Let’s find out more, shall we?
In A Nutshell
In a nutshell, the storyline sees Sugar Kid abducted by Mr Lemon, a mustachioed evil mastermind who is hellbent on revenge following the theft of his throne. Sugar Kid is thus placed into a machine and pelted with a steady stream of liquids from several pipes above, ranging from water and lemon juice to an unpleasant looking brown substance, while Mr Lemon attempts to dissolve Sugar Kid into nothingness.
Here is where you, the player, come in. Your mission is simple: keep Sugar Kid alive by ensuring that he does not come into contact with the aforementioned deadly liquids. This is done by constructing multiple bridges of miniature sugar cubes that will protect our hapless hero as he darts around the screen … well, for a little while at least. Unfortunately, each bridge can only withstand a certain amount of abuse before melting into oblivion, causing the fluid in question to come crashing down on top of poor Sugar Kid. Boo.
Sugar, and Bubbles and Chaos, Oh My!
While you’re busy drawing bridges in order to ensure Sugar Kid stays dry, you’ll also want to stay alert for the various items which appear in bubbles at random intervals. Each bubble contains something which will help Sugar Kid survive — an umbrella provides temporary shelter, a steel-leaden sugar cube reinforces bridges and a heart increases the health of even the weariest Sugar Kid. Alongside all this, you also need to collect stars, of which there is a maximum of two per level, plus the star you automatically get once the level has been completed.
Just as you think you’re becoming adept at handling anything Mr Lemon throws at you, the game changes direction, dishing out specific goals which must be met in order to complete each level. Free Sugar Kid involves the protagonist being trapped in a bubble requiring a large volume of liquids to burst and escape, for example.
Alongside the main Levels mode, Sugar Kid also features Survival and Deadly Mission gameplay modes. Survival is a real nail-biter, in which you must try to keep Sugar Kid alive for as long as possible while goo intermittently obscures the screen. Deadly Mission involves starting the game over from scratch, but with the specification that you must build fewer than 10 bridges or collect three complete hearts in each level and so forth.
If you get stuck on a particular level, Sugar Kid’s friend Bernard is also on hand to provide assistance, albeit for a price. For $0.99 via an in-app purchase, Bernard will enable you to complete a single level with the maximum three stars, though he can only be called upon once a day. There are a lot of instances of optional in-app purchases in Sugar Kid, but none are essential to play the game.
Sick of seeing Sugar Kid in the same old outfit? You can change his appearance in the dressing room section of the game, which can be found on the main menu. From Rastafarian to Captain Jack Sparrow, additional costumes can be unlocked with the stars you’ve collected as you progress further in the game, or alternatively, they can be acquired via in-app purchase. In my opinion, this latter option isn’t worth your money as, rather annoyingly, the costume is removed as soon as Sugar Kid receives any substantial damage.
The overall graphics in the game are, in a word, fantastic. We’re not talking stunning 3D immersion or lifelike visuals, but well drawn cartoon graphics which complement the action and make things more interesting throughout. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into making Sugar Kid as visually pleasing as possible, and this pays dividends. The soundtrack also fits in well with the overall atmosphere, and adds to the tension when far too many liquids are falling at one time to keep track of.
There’s an abundance of puzzle games available in the App Store, but Sugar Kid manages to stand out from the crowd by inserting mild horror elements alongside vibrant graphics, while sticking to a basic formula of ratcheting up the speed to a frenetic pace which becomes almost, but not quite, untenable. The game is a universal app, so it works on both the iPhone and iPad, which is always nice to see. However, the option of synchronized saves would be a welcome addition.
Despite comprising of an impressive sounding 90-plus levels that are spaced out over 3 different lands, Sugar Kid actually changes very little from the first level to the last. Because of this, at times gameplay can border on the monotonous, but the graphics, story and pick-up-and-play controls all combine to create a title which, like sugar itself, can prove to be surprisingly addictive.