Review: Call of Carlos
A little burst of mariachi music greets you as you open up Call of Carlos, a platforming arcade game from developers Games Academy. To go alongside the background music, there's a strong Central American feel to the graphics, which adds a lot of atmosphere to this well balanced and fast slice of twitchy controlled fun.
Version Reviewed: 220.127.116.11
Take the two elements of the game, the platformer and the arcade element, and blend them together. That's not an easy task, but it has been managed here exceptionally well. You control Carlos through three basic moves - tilt your phone left and right to move left and right, and tapping the screen to fire your grappling hook in that direction. The grappling hook is very important because Carlos, being an atypical cartoon miner, has no ability to jump. If you need to get some height in the game, you'll need to latch the hook onto a suitable point around the level and have yourself snapped up smartly.
And getting height is important, because Call of Carlos is a vertically scrolling platform game so you will constantly be looking up to escape the mine... while collecting diamonds along the way.
It's probably no surprise that there are three diamonds per level and your success at each level is through the number of diamonds you collect. You can finish each level simply by reaching the exit, but if you want to have a perfect record, grab the diamonds.
Grabbing the diamonds (at least according to the cut scene) was what got you into all this mess in the first place, because Carlos managed to unplug a volcano. Now you have a time limit to your subterranean adventures as the lava starts to creep up the screen, forcing you to keep ahead of it as you look to escape each level.
And that's all the elements. Each level takes around twenty seconds or so to complete successfully, so it's a very quick hit of arcade action. Note that I say 'successfully'. It may take you a lot longer than that to master some of the levels, as well as the accuracy of the grappling hook, the correct point to start swinging while in the air, and how fast you need to tilt to turn on the spot and change direction with another well timed grapple.
There's actually a very subtle and challenging game just under the surface here, and that's why I think I like Call of Carlos. It starts off very easy, and the first seven or eight levels had me wondering if it was getting a little bit repetitive. Then the evil parts of the level designer's ego started to get in the way, and I was missing jumps just as the lava started to reach me, jewels were tempting me to reach for them instead of taking the exit with just two diamonds to my name for a not quite complete level.
Fluid controls with accuracy and speed, level design that can tempt you to go for a 100% record even though it's difficult, and the need to keep trying one more time. That's the mark of good game design right there.
Call of Carlos isn't perfect. The levels are a touch short, and perhaps you need to spend a little bit too much time trying to get a pixel perfect jump, and I'd like the option to have the music continue to play in the background while exploring the mines. On the other hand, this looks really well put together, is presented well, and is a free download. Call of Carlos is a timewaster that's not going to last a long time, but one that lets you enjoy every minute of your time with the manic Mexican miner.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at