The addictiveness of endless runners stems from presenting players with the greatest obstacle they could ever hope to overcome- themselves. With no end in sight, the only limit is you, and with that in mind Crescent Moon Games has brought us another entry in this crowded genre, Gear Jack Black Hole, a world-hopping, sci-fi runner.
Gear Jack is a cute little robo-guy who gets trapped inside a black hole, and now he’s running for his life, traveling through time and space via hidden black holes, trying to avoid hazards like spikes, cliffs, lava, spinning saw blades and aliens. If you’re hoping for Gear Jack to bring you a quality story, look elsewhere, as there’s none to be found with this app— the official store description offers more information than players get in game. If Gear Jack Black Hole were a parent, its parenting style would be “tough love.” You have to figure everything out on your own if you hope to survive, as there’s virtually no hand-holding, tutorial or assistance from the game. There’s hardly even a title screen for players to process before jumping in head-first— Gear Jack Black Hole cuts the crap and throws players directly into the game.
While Gear Jack Black Hole’s controls are not difficult to figure out, since you have to learn them while on the run, expect to spend a little bit of time and a lot of lives trying to figure out what you can and can’t do. There’s an up arrow, down arrow and a snail button. As you might expect, the up arrow jumps, the down arrow tucks Gear Jack into a ball that rolls, and the snail slows your run to a walk. Making like Samus and rolling in a ball works quite nicely, leaving you feeling like a marble rolling across a glass table. One thing Gear Jack doesn't have is a competent jump, as his little hops feel out of control and twitchy, not to mention flat-out awkward. And while Gear Jack has a double-jump, it relies on timing so precise John Cleese would have trouble pulling it off. The snail crawl, while a nice addition that’s often unseen in endless runners, generally feels unnecessary, and will often get forgotten since you have to leave your fingers glued to those up and down arrows. If so much as a robo-hair gets mussed on Jack’s robo-head, he dies.
Collectible gears act as currency, and can be used to purchase different outfits and poses for Gear Jack. They are overly abundant, and therefore can only be used to purchase unnecessary items. Stars, however, are used to continue where you die, and without them you have to start over each time. They’re pretty darn useful, and so hard to obtain you might as well call them unobtanium, all as part of an effort on the part of Crescent Moon Games to entice you to plunk down some of that real-life money.
Gear Jack Black Hole has vibrant colors, and a simple, but effective, graphic style. The 8-bit inspired soundtrack is peppy, but repetitive. Crescent Moon Games adds a few neat and new features to the endless runner genre, but doesn’t quite execute them to their greatest potential, leaving Gear Jack Black Hole as a somewhat solid, but ultimately unremarkable endless runner.
This review is based on a downloaded copy of Gear Jack Black Hole for iOS.