Jumping from the Spectrum to Doodling on the iPhone

In 1983 Albert Ball and Stuart C. Ball had a game published by Imagine that they had written for the 16K ZX Spectrum. It was called Jumping Jack (Leggit on the Dragon and Atari) and I referenced it earlier on when talking about the Atari 2600 homebrew game, Man Goes Down, as they feel similar.

Here it is in action:

They feel similar because they are more or less the same game only, as
their name suggests, the direction you progress is different: one up,
one down. Of course, they both add in additional obstacles but they
are just there to spike difficulty.

The concept is incredibly simple and needs little in the way of a
tutorial to show the user what needs to be done. We all know how to
jump and fall. This is a huge part of their success.

But that game concept is at least 27 years old and it’s incredibly
simplistic, surely you need something more sophisticated to grab
peoples attention today?

Not according to some recent figures from Distimo
(http://www.distimo.com/) which reveal that Doodle Jump has racked up over 5 million downloads:[source http://www.fiercedeveloper.com/story/distimo-games-still-dominate-app-store-d…]. 

At 99c a download, minus Apple’s 30% share of the cash, that means
Lima Sky (the game’s developer) has pulled in just over $3 Million.
Not bad for a simple jumping game.

But it’s not just a simple jumping game. It is highly polished, it has a great aesthetic and it has probably one of
the best uses of the iPhone’s accelerometer I’ve seen. For the game’s control interface you just tilt left and right to reach a platform to jump to.

It has also some cute social elements which like the game design itself are very apt for the game design and show a lot of thought has gone into it, e.g. you can see little height markers on the edge of the screen to show you where others have reached before you.

All in all it’s annoyingly brilliant and addictive. For me, it’s a
master class as it demonstrates two things that I think you must have to
achieve any level of success with a game. Firstly it’s very simple, it
doesn’t need a huge tutorial to play through it. And secondly, the
designers have spent time working out the best way for user to
interact with the game based on what the target platform offers.

This all adds up to demonstrating that somewhat enigmatic and fluffy
concept we’re searching for: it feels fun to play.

Leave a Reply