Little Chomp iOS Review [Pax East 2013]

There were an insane amount of games on display at Pax East 2013 the other week, but not only the Triple-A mega titles from huge companies like Ubiosft, Sony and Blizzard. Wading through the maze of booths, displays and sections from these big developers, it was rather easy to lose yourself in the sea of 70,000 gamers, but among the fray were a few gems in the form of indie and mobile titles there as part of the yearly Indie showcase.

It wouldn't be fair for me to try and pick a favorite out of all of the games I saw, but it's quite easy to identify the most charming of all those games. That game would have to be Little Chomp, from Portland studio ClutchPlay.

Little Chomp might look a little familiar at first, because at a glance, it seems to incorporate familiar elements from some popular iOS titles, but the end result is quite unique. In the game, you take control of the titular character, a caterpillar who braves the various forest settings of the Chompwood Kingdom in order to acquire fruit and coins.

The game presents itself in roughly the same manner most level-based games on the platform do these days, giving you three worlds with 18 levels each, for a total of 54. Each level gets progressively harder, and each world has unique fruit to acquire and different enemies to escape. You play by aiming Little Chomp from leaf to leaf, as he grabs on with his teeth, or by bouncing off mushrooms. As mentioned, you also have to avoid a variety of bees, ladybugs, birds, squirrels, frogs, spiders, bats and snakes, all out to get you as you try to get past them to collect coins and fruit and get to the end of the level, not to mention while avoiding spikes as well.

Coins are used to acquire powerups, from extra lives to a fire attack to coin doublers and magnets, and various degrees for each, as well as some fruit that you might be missing. The fruit allows you to unlock various butterflies through a minigame system where you feed caterpillars a sequence of fruit and unlock their butterfly form, for a total of over 100. If that wasn't enough, each level offers three challenges which vary with each level and can often take a lot of skill to accomplish.

The value in Little Chomp is two-fold. On the one hand, it's a game that quickly becomes challenging, that has a lot to play through, and easily 10-15 hours of gameplay just on the three worlds it offers. Any "hardcore" mobile gamer would easily see the value. But beyond that, it's a surprisingly well-balanced and family-friendly title that anyone could enjoy, in terms of the level design, the skills it asks you to implement to complete a level, and of course in the art of the game.

While I was checking out ClutchPlay's booth at Pax, the game's Producer, Amy Dallas, told me a story about a young boy who stumbled upon one of the harder levels in the demo they had on display, and how everyone was cheering him on and how he managed to beat it. It's an odd thing to try and describe, but you see it when you play the game. There's this weird balance between immensely playable and accessible, but also tirelessly challenging if you really want to play through it and accomplish everything. And that makes the game rather addictive.

Moreover, the art in the game is quite breathtaking, considering it's an indie game from a small studio. Not to say indie devs aren't capable of some remarkable things, but the game is stunning in its visuals, for what it tries to be, and it's impressive. Plus it's one of the more responsive games out there, and I really don't have any complaints about the gameplay, and it's complete with charming music and sound.

In fact, in doing my job as a reviewer, and trying to mitigate the hospitality of the people at ClutchPlay when I talked to them at Pax, it was hard to really find any faults with the game. If you didn't know any better, you could easily mistake Little Chomp with one of the more well-known iOS games currently out there. It's a game that's easily worth your 99 cents.

Little Chomp gets 9 hungry caterpillars out of 10.

Check out a gameplay video below, and download it on iTunes by clicking here, as well as on the Android marketplace.