A clever and addictive tie-in to Disney's upcoming Wreck-It Ralph movie, Fix-It Felix Jr. is now a free download on the iPhone. Featuring sprite graphics, synth sound and wonderfully wonky controls, it's a tasty 100-point cherry ode to the golden age of 8-bit gaming, à la Galaga and Dig Dug.
It's a retro revelation, a satisfying new addition to a genre we thought was long-dead. Kind of like The Artist, but with tiny flying ducks.
The game's goal is simple: fix all broken windows and doors of an apartment complex after the titular Ralph has gone and wrecked it. Watch out for the falling bricks and ducks (clearly visiting from Nintendo's classic Duck Hunt) and pick up windowsill pies for health!
That blocky, twitch-oriented look is refreshingly not at all like the M-rated HD games that sell Xboxes these days. Maybe that's why 2-D side-scrollers have been making a comeback lately, with their simple controls and challenging puzzles.
The game looks rad and feels even radder, like some long-forgotten Donkey Kong sequel. Ralph is essentially the big ape and Felix (you!) are like Mario jumping and fixing up/down/left/right everything like the yellow gobbler munched pellets.
Actual arcade-machine versions have been making the rounds this year, and records are already being made. There's even rumors of a kill screen, too. Back in the '80s, kill screens occurred on Donkey Kong, Galaga, (pretty much all of them) when the arcade machine's memory filled and the game simply crashed.
Presumably, the kill screen in Felix is more a fun homage than an actual game crasher. But we'll never know, since we have barely cleared level 5.
How does Felix compare to real arcade classics?
Using a touchscreen could never take the place of the old joystick-and-button feel, but you won't notice after the first few plays. And we do mean first few. This had our "one more game" mojo working overtime. We would have fed a pocketful of quarters into this thing back in the day.
There are no fun boings! when you move like that Italian plumber, but every pluck! when you fix-it! is pure joy. Some might balk at the fact when you die (you will a LOT) you quickly respawn in the same place—as opposed to starting all the way at the bottom of the screen. But we aren't complaining. We're not that hardcore.
Just don't forget to sign yer high score with your big fat 8-bit initials, or just "AAA."