It's all fairly routine, with the notable (and welcome) exception of multiple screen orientations, which may not improve the gameplay much but are still a fantastic novelty.
- Switchable screens!
- Good animation
- Good music
- Solid gameplay.
- Way too short
- No sound effects
- Movie shouldn't exist.
For better or for worse, The Mask is at it again. Loki's magic mask, which transforms its wearer into a zany, green-faced superhero (once characterized by Jim Carrey), is making its return to the silver screen in Son of the Mask, due to hit theaters shortly. Indiagames has been tasked with developing a mobile game based on the new film property, which will star Jamie Kennedy, Alan Cumming, and a cute baby. You take on the role of the mask-empowered baby in this side-scrolling platformer. It's all fairly routine, with the notable (and welcome) exception of multiple screen orientations, which may not improve the gameplay much but are still a fantastic novelty.
Adorable tot Alvie has caused a lot of trouble, apparently: Loki's mask is on the loose, Norse gods are on the hunt, and the strange magicks emanating from the artifact are playing havoc with reality. The only way for Alvie to fix things is to hop through four fairly short levels, collecting candy and bopping enemies on the head along the way. There's a mask at the end of each level that'll transport you to a bonus stage where you can collect more candy if you feel like it. The game keeps track of how fast you complete each level and factors that into your score, which is then entered into a table.
There are a few interesting power-ups along the way, including magic balloons that will cause your head to inflate and enable short-term flight (yes, just like Balloon Headed Boy), baby bottles to restore your health, and gumballs you can use to nail enemies from long range. In addition, baby Alvie has the ability to dash in either direction by turning into a cartoony tornado, as well as performing spin jumps that'll bust through certain floor types. You hardly ever need to use either ability, though, so they're pretty much irrelevant. Finally, Alvie can gain extra altitude after bouncing off an enemy's head, which can prove quite useful in some levels.
Aside from these abilities, though, Son of the Mask's gameplay is pretty rote. The levels are fairly cut and dried, and they're mostly horizontal runs through various types of enemies and traps. However, there are a few difficult sections in the game, so the checkpoints scattered around each level are appreciated. The most impressive features of the game lie in its visual presentation, at least in the Nokia 6600 version. At the beginning of the game, you can choose from right-handed or left-handed orientations, which turn the cell screen into a much more game-friendly letterbox, or you can opt for a classic vertical perspective. The graphics and controls switch flawlessly to match the perspective. This is a brilliant idea all the way around, because it makes the handset easier to hold and also reveals more of the game at a single time.
Son of the Mask's graphics are definitely worth showing off. The game's character art is great, and it comes with a large amount of humorous animation that adds a laugh or two to the experience. For example, Alvie might start shaking maracas at the end of a level, and your mask-wearing dad will make a truly absurd expression when you jump on his head for a boost. The game's music is excellent as well; there's an interesting title theme and different tunes for each level. The total lack of sound effects is an unfortunate caveat to an otherwise strong effort.
Son of the Mask combines very good production values and an important innovation with a better-than-average platform game, making for an enjoyable experience overall. It's a shame that the game's four short levels and bonus stages are not enough for it to have much replay value, though; with more content, Son of the Mask would be a great game, rather than a good one. Still, this is a strong movie-licensed title, and it's worth picking up if you like platformers.