Retro gaming has changed. Once upon a time it was all about dusting off machines secreted in the attic, or fiddling with emulators. Now it’s sitting on a train, bored, and suddenly noticing you still have Doodle Jump installed. All of a sudden you’re transported back to the heady days of 2009.
Times were better. “P-P-P-P-oker face!”: Remember that one? Ah, memories.
In these days of cheap prices, quick downloads and near instant gratification our mobile games are consumed, then left behind. There are some constants (Drop7 being mine) but otherwise so many games become the flotsam and jetsam we leave behind us. They lurk on our menu screens, but our eyes somehow don’t focus on them anymore. They’re less a potential game-time deposit, and more the screen furniture that’s always lurking two to the left from Facebook, and a diagonal away from Grindr.
Unlike your slight returns to games of yesteryear in search of nostalgia however, which rarely mature well, it’s somewhat fascinating that the longer you leave iOS titles alone – the more they change. Development is no longer static and so, for better or worse, games can keep up to date with all the modern trends.
When I left Doodle Jump it was a straight infinite platform jumper – a fuzzy sketch forever leaping with only your tilt as a guide, and a selection of monsters to avoid and jetpacks to pounce upon. Now the lovely little Doodle can leap through graveyards, yuletide scenes, jungles, the infinite depths of space, the World Cup and – a new addition- Ninja stuff.
There’s also a store where you can use the gold coins you harvest on your ascent to buy vital ninja gear like resurrection barrels, head start cannons and sumo belts. I might have dreamt it – but shooting monsters doesn’t seem to be such a monumental pain in the arse either.
Some largely cosmetic changes and variety tweaks sure, but Doodle Jump was never going to get a sexy lady side-kick, a bazooka and an traumatic origin story. Does the coin collection diminish the game’s status as a pure pursuit of ever higher heights? Well, maybe, but it certainly feels like more of a well-rounded game now – and one less likely to swiftly lose players to the next shiny thing they find.
I’m just finding it rather pleasant to live in a world where, as with Tiny Wings too, mobile game creators don’t feel the need to rush off elsewhere to create the next big thing. They’re quite happy to, arguably, rest on their laurels – but improve those laurels for those who never left, those who make an occasional return and the vast numbers of future Doodle adopters waiting in the wings.
Then again, if I’d made myself richer than Croesus through the success of a game as gorgeously simply as Doodle Jumper – I probably wouldn’t look beyond the horizon either. Just higher and higher on the rather lovely sequence of platforms I’d already found myself upon.
If you fancy giving Doodle Jump a whirl because WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN then you’ll find it under a sign that says 69p on the App Store.