Jack is a young boy who dreams of some very odd worlds. Within them he flies, races and shoots his way to the edge of his imagination. However they are far from perfect. The toys in his dreams persistently attempt to disturb him to wake Jack up. It is up to you to fly Jack through his dream and ensure he gets a good night’s sleep. Read on for my full review.
There is no up or down, no left or right. Everything is relative to Jack as he flies through the tunnels of his dreams. Inside this vortex you have to manoeuvre Jack left and right around the ring. As you go along there are many power-ups and collectibles you can use to keep Jack asleep, and to fight past his bizarre toys that try to wake him up.
The level styles and 'worlds' vary often.
I love the diversity offered in Sleepy Jack. You don’t have just one gun, you have many varying from splash-damage grenades and throwable pin-wheels, to freeze bombs and explosive light-pistols. The levels also vary greatly in style.
Early on in the game you fly around a relatively narrow tunnel collecting ‘Z’s to help keep Jack happy and asleep, but later you fly through “Rhythm Tunnels” collecting “Note Bubbles” to fuel Jack’s boombox rocket pack. Later, you could be in wide tunnel, flying through speed-hoops to get Jack to end of the level as quickly as possible. One minute it feels like a speedy power-up game, and the next it’s like 3D Space-Invaders.
Multiple Control Sets
One of the best features of Sleepy Jack is the selection of different control methods and layouts. This ensures that there is something to please everybody – and if you don’t like one control method, you can try another.
These are your three choices for helping Jack catch some 'Z's
The Classic mode offers on-screen button controls, which you tap with your thumbs to make Jack do his stuff.
The Slider option lets you swipe your finger along the bottom of the screen to make Jack loop around inside his tube-like dream world – however, I found that firing his pistol was a little awkward this way.
The Accelerometer option worked out best for me, and is a good compromise. Tilt the phone to steer Jack, and tap the screen to fire.
You are asked which control set you want to use each time you start a game, so don’t worry about getting stuck with a choice and having to hunt through menus to change it later. A sensible design choice for a casual game.
The Classic controls. The items in this tunnel are both jumps and accelerators.
Further Good Points
Sleepy Jack’s graphical quality is superb in comparison to other smartphone games. The rich and vibrant colours keep you hooked, but are not so intrusive as to be off-putting when they spiral around the screen during Jack’s adventures.
Jack’s musical accompaniment is great too. Like the graphics, it is an aspect that keeps you coming back for more. (Especially in the Musical-Jetpack levels, where it’s borderline hypnotic.)
You are not exactly short of levels either: there are over 40 to enjoy. Although I only went as far as level 20, I can again say that the amount of content packed into the game is excellent. Despite the levels being essentially the same thing repeated, each one feels sufficiently different to eliminate any feelings of repetition.
One or Two Problems
One of the biggest problems I found in this game whilst playing on my Desire HD was that whenever the ‘Laser Gunners’ come to get you around the fifth level, the framerate drops to about 2 FPS as they fire at you. (Admittedly, this is probably an issue with the graphical rendering capabilities of the Desire HD). It was an annoyance, and these foes come back often in later levels to bother me again. Other than this issue, the graphics run smoothly even when set as high as they can go.
Another problem I uncovered is related to the various control methods I raved about before. My otherwise favourite Accelerometer controls have a slight flaw: whether you tilt the phone to full ‘lock’ or turn it slightly, Jack moves at the same speed around the edge of the tunnel. This means that chasing things which also rotate around the tunnel trying to get away from you is very difficult. The Classic and Slider controls allow you to travel much faster, thereby making the whole ‘chase the rotating baddies’ gameplay a lot easier.
Sleepy Jack was clearly created by developers with very warped and abstract imaginations. I mean that in the best sense, of course! It is thoroughly enjoyable and I recommend it to you. Incidentally, I find it to be an ideal ‘smartphone game’, meaning that you can use it to kill time on the bus, and as an absorbing escape when you are bored elsewhere.
Altogether I think Sleepy Jack deserves a rating of 9/10. The gameplay is fantastic and the graphics are wonderful, far exceeding what most people expect from a mobile game. The reason one point has been knocked off the score is due to my complaint of the laser-gunner framerate glitch. Overlooking that flaw, I will say that Sleepy Jack is an engrossing game and you should look into it.