Sleepy Mouse is the first iOS mobile game of Start Get Ready© and has launched today, Tuesday the 9th of August 2016.
The aim of the game is to not allow Sleepy Mouse to “wake up hangry” (for those who don’t know this is a portmanteau of the words hungry and angry, and is a very real experience I can assure you) by giving him a wheel of cheese before he wakes. This is done through physics based puzzles, sliding the cheese around similar to flash golf games in which the cheese is the ball and the mouse is the hole (mouse hole). The physics of the cheese is interesting as it starts to spin as it bounces, and this will alter how collisions will affect its next path of travel, making for interesting angles of approach on some shots. I felt sometimes that the physics were slightly unreliable, and the indicator for the cheese would benefit from representing its size better as I would often collide with objects I was sure I could slip past, but I did get used to it mostly.
The number of shots you can make in a level depends on how many sheep you have, if you run out of sheep then Hungry Mouse wakes up and you lose, there are occasionally sheep to be collected in a level. This however isn’t the only peril you will face when trying to feed this sleeping hungry rodent; Alarm clocks, holes, traps, digital alarms, magnets, and more all will stand in your path trying to cost you your victory.
As puzzle games tend to do; Sleepy Mouse starts off very simple and grows more complex as you make your way through the levels (currently 75 to be conquered). However as with many puzzle games it suffers the feeling of rather than being a difficulty curve it’s more of a difficulty scatter graph, some levels being very tricky and taking multiple approaches to even clear, then other later ones feeling incredibly simplistic. Part of the swinging difficulty could be due to the introduction of new objects, it takes a trial and error style approach to learning; not prompting you on what obstacles do, allow you to work out their effect for yourself.
Though it’s nice to meet new challenges they seemingly reset the difficulty for that section of levels (obviously not wanting to instantly overwhelm with a new piece of the puzzle) however this isn’t always the cause of the difference it just simply comes down to level placement; but that feeling could vary from player to player.
The graphics style is a simplistic, but fairly pleasing, 2D that does easily convey everything important in the game. My favourite aspect of the graphics is the look on Sleepy Mouse’s face when he wakes up, I do feel genuinely judged… There’s nothing particularly fancy about the graphics, however they fit the purpose here perfectly and are charming in their own way. One gripe I would have with the graphics would be that the destructible walls don’t show how many hits they need to break BEFORE you hit them.
The music is relaxing (to be expected in a game about a sleeping mouse) utilising piano, strings, a music box, and is a pleasing tune. The sounds are generic but fit the purpose completely, and I would believe that most play phone games on silent anyway as battery life and being a public nuisance are both to be considered.
Later in the game the Blue Cheese is introduced which makes the gameplay feel closer to a pool game than a golf game; you knock this wheel around to fill holes, activate buttons etc. This is a nice mix up and I preferred this aspect to the simple “golf” style. Should more levels be introduced down the line I would certainly hope to see more of this.
The levels already present do get creative with their own tool set however, such as having moving platforms set on a collision course with an alarm clock, essentially making it a timed level. This use of existing rules (i.e. this platform moves, this clock being touched loses the level) combining to essentially make a new threat is a very nice touch and brought a smile to my face when I saw what was happening.
Sleepy Mouse has Game Center connectivity to track scores for the top players (oh hey look at that!) however this feels partially arbitrary to me. Many levels have an optimal solve method meaning a score cap is a soft presence for each level which in turn means the top scores will all be around the same mark. The scoring works as 1000 points (completely arbitrary) for clearing a level, then 100 points for each bounce on the successful shot only (this is the limiting factor) and 100 points for every extra sheep on the successful shot. Each bounce shows the successive +100 +200 etc then a red minus falls across the screen when the shot isn’t successful, a part which feels pointless to me and aesthetically displeasing.
Each level also has a gold star score which isn’t made known, however the section selection screen only shows total level score and not stars collected, meaning you need to manually scan across all the levels, a minor gripe but it would be a nice polishing touch. At present I do have full gold stars (and number one in the current world of eight score submitters) and it was compelling enough to keep me playing, however now I feel I have very little left to do with the app other than wait for a potential update. Another nice built in feature however is the ability to upload replays to UPlay to share with friends your sick cheese wheel bouncing skills.
Sleepy Mouse does suffer from the occasional minor issue as mentioned, and another very annoying one is dragging a shot off screen scrolls across, essentially meaning you can’t see what you’re aiming at. This drove me insane; zooming out would be a vastly preferable option but this leads me to good news:
As I played the game and formulated feedback I reached out to the developer with my ideas of improvements and they were very receptive of the input and they seem dedicated and driven to improve the game. The score reflects the current product with the idea that improvements will be coming, however the last big driving factor in rating a game is the price and value for money.
Sleepy Mouse is a free to play game with no freemium nonsense attached. You can watch ads to skip levels and this ad revenue will fund the game’s future development so it would be a nice gesture to use it at least a few times to support the developer. And what can I say; you can’t beat that price tag! Sure you may quickly decimate all challenges before you, but you can do it for free while supporting an indie developer! If you enjoy this type of game I would recommend you at least give Sleepy Mouse a try.