sky-tourist_647585833_ipad_01.jpgWith its winning combination of cute graphics, unique touch controls and tricky, but not too tricky puzzles, Sky Tourist is a welcome new addition for casual iOS gamers looking for a pick up and play puzzle game perfect for short bursts of entertainment.

Intergalactic space tourist Petey Pendant is on a mission to discover new planets and civilizations. Tethered between a pair of rockets he’s ready to take flight, meet the locals, buy souvenirs and lots of photos.

To guide Petey, you simply hold the rockets with your thumbs and slide them gently upward to fly. To stop, you just need to lift your fingers off the screen. To move Petey sideways, you guide the rockets in opposite directions and he will slide toward the lower rocket (or the one that is moving in a downward direction). It feels a tiny bit awkward at first, but you quickly get the hang of it and Petey is able to navigate the windiest of pathways with ease as he makes his way to the two totems at the end of each level.

sky-tourist_647585833_ipad_05Sounds simple right? Well there are a number of things for Petey to collect and avoid during his ascent. First and foremost you are trying to collect little groupings of golden cubes called cubelets. These are the in-game currency and also one of the determining factors as to whether or not you’ll be earning three stars on any given level. Generally if you can collect all of the cubelets you’ll get at least one star, with the remaining two being awarded for not dying during an attempt and just reaching the end of the level.

The simple control scheme works quite well, especially on smaller devices, however if you are struggling a bit, you also have th option to adjust the control sensitivity, though this is strangely only accessible from the pause menu while you are actively playing a level. I found that using two index fingers on an iPad lying flat on a table was pretty comfortable, but did have some issue with my fingers drifting a bit.

sky-tourist_647585833_ipad_04Your path to the totems is never a straight shot, instead it is blocked by various gates that must be pushed open and closed (sometimes in a very specific order). To make it to the top you’ll often find yourself having to do a fair bit of backtracking, especially if you are dead set on getting every last cubelet. There will be times when you find yourself trapped in a dead-end, and the only way to reach an opening is to go back and find another way. Or you may need to push a gate on the left side into a particular position to be able to access another area from the right. Sometimes you can’t help but feel a little like a mouse in a maze and have to take a step back, examine the level and plan your moves accordingly.

If Petey gets caught up on something or the rope gets jostled too quickly then it is in danger of breaking and will turn red (just before it snaps) to give you a little warning first. There are lots of cute little touches like on the level of a location, Petey has to snap a photo, which can then be viewed in his photobook. However, don’t let the charming graphics fool you though, some of these levels are down-right devious with ways for you to easily trap yourself into a no-win situation in which you must cut Petey loose so you can start over from the last checkpoint.

sky-tourist_647585833_ipad_07Unfortunately, there are a couple of (seemingly unnecessary) IAPs in the game. one for $2.99 that unlocks all of the planets and another for 99¢ Cubelets Pack that contains an unspecified number of cubelets. I kind of wish these weren’t even there as it makes the game a little less kid-friendly and something parents need to make sure their little ones don’t purchase. Instead of locking the next level until the previous one is completed, I would have preferred to see all levels in a grouping be unlocked at once, in case someone gets stuck on one. During levels you will also occasionally see a shopkeeper who will sell you souvenirs which can be purchased using cubelets.

There are a total of 75 levels separated up into 3 unique planets. The length of levels varies a bit, so require a good deal of back tracking and take much longer to complete while others are pretty straightforward. The second two planets are locked until you earn a specified total number of stars. There is quite a bit of gameplay here for your 99¢.

In Conclusion

Newcomers Three Legged Egg, have made a really strong showing their first time out the iOS gate. Sky Tourist is charming, yet challenging and offers iOS gamers a fresh puzzler experience. Some of the level will give your brain a bit of a mental workout, but I never stopped having fun. The game’s slower pace may not appeal to everyone, but at 99&cent’ I doubt even they will regret taking the reins and lending a couple of thumbs to help Petey out.