I have very fond memories of collecting and playing with Micro Machines when I was a kid. For those of you who don’t remember them, Micro Machines were a line of tiny toy vehicles that became hugely popular in the late 80’s and 90’s. Pocket Trucks (Out Now, $0.99) harkens back to those days but is set in a virtual playground that’s much cooler than real life.
Pocket Trucks is a side-scrolling, platform racing game in which you take control of a tiny truck and navigate it towards the finish line in the fastest time possible. At the start, your objective is clear: the amount of nuts you collect, the time it takes for you to hut the finish button and the number of successful flips you land are all taken into consideration when receiving your final score out of 3 stars.
You do this by using the virtual buttons on both sides of the screen. There’s a back and forward button on the right and a forward and backward flip button on the opposite side. The layout and responsiveness of the buttons work fine, but its flipping mechanic can be a little off at times. Occasionally I felt that I landed perfect flips, only to be told that I didn’t and at some points I found my truck stuck on the ledge of a ramp due to a failed flip. It’s annoying but these little problems aren’t game breakers. If you’re not happy with how you did you can always replay the level, with a ghost truck to chase after. I love that there’s a phantom of your previous race on the track with you as it gives you a physical (or is it metaphysical?) opponent to race against.
Along your way to the finish line there are various traps like barrels of TNT or spikes that will try to hinder your progress. You do have help though in the form of power-ups like a rocket boost that sends your truck flying forward or — my personal favorite — wings that enable you to fly up to a ledge that you may not have been able to reach. I wish that the power-ups were randomly generated but they seem to be predestined to be where they are. A spring is needed, and lo and behold, a spring is found. You know the exact moment when to use the power-up you found, and this is due to the level design, which is pretty genius besides that one little nitpick.
As mentioned earlier, the levels are pretty fun to play. As you progress, goals become more than just a time trial and sometimes you have to race against an opponent or even collect items like chickens (say what?!), and there’s sometimes more than one way to get to the finish line. Pocket Trucks‘ art style is absolutely fantastic. The levels look like they’re dioramas in a kid’s room. The background and track itself look as if they are cardboard cutouts and it fits the fun and playful mood of the game and the various looks don’t get old throughout the 15 worlds. The little things like the “Start” and “Finish” being cutouts in the background add charm to an already charming the game.
There are upgrades that you can purchase in the garage using a combination of nuts and coins that are during each level. Spoilers, tires and body paint can be added or changed and with enough coins and nuts you can even buy whole new trucks. If you want to spend real money on in app purchases you can, but certain upgrades are only unlocked depending on what level your truck is. You can also refill or stock up on nitro, which is essential for getting a good start.
iFanzine Verdict: Pocket Trucks is a fun game to pick up and play when you have nothing else to do. Controls work well and it’s really nice to look at it. Objectives change, adding variety to each track you play. There are a ton of customizations to unlock and buy and with the amount of levels to play through it’s a game that you’ll keep coming back to. Instead of having a bunch of tiny toy cars lying around the house, just download Pocket Trucks!