Ever since Shigeru Miyamoto released what’s probably the most important game in history, Super Mario Bros., jumping has become the axis around which most games have pivoted. It’s clear that with the passing of time the jump is not as important as it used to be, but the move has still taken its place in the catalogue of smartphone games as a new pillar on which to sustain an entire industry. Where before you pressed a button to jump, now you just tap the screen. High Risers is an elegy to that simple but fundamental move that somehow has so much charm.
High Risers doesn’t have loads of backstory. Okay, so actually it has no backstory. As soon as you start the game you see a character running from side to side bouncing off the walls at the base of a building. A hand invites you to tap the screen with your index finger and when you do – actually any finger will work – High Risers officially starts.
What that hand prompts you to do is in fact the only action you can do in High Risers. Tap the screen. And jump. That’s it. The game is based on jumping from one floor to the next, all with surgical precision. But jumping nonstop isn’t necessarily super appealing so the challenge lies in the fact that not all the floors in the building are the same. Some have a hole in the sides, others have no escape route anywhere. Our mission consists of getting as high as possible to avoid your character falling off one of the sides, as he’s constantly in motion. And rebounding from one wall to another.
That’s why the moment you decide to tap the screen is crucial to how your game develops. But nor should you wear yourself out. As soon as you mess up and end up jumping somewhere with no wall, the game puts you back at the bottom of the building so you can keep trying. And don’t worry, nobody gets hurt, as when your character falls he always ends up opening a parachute.
High Risers is reminiscent in certain aspects of Leap Day, another addictive game that we talked about here recently. The developer of High Risers himself has commented that his game is like “the offspring of Leap Day and Canabalt.” This endless jumper (can we call it that?) not only resembles the former given that it’s infinite but also has certain sections where you have to jump horizontally.
Kumobius, the studio behind Duet and Time Surfer, is also the developer of this great little game that’s as simple as it is addictive. No longer do you just try to get as far as possible but you also gradually unlock different characters and settings that give it a bit more variety. To do that you have to collect the coins scattered around the different levels – or pay real money or watch some ads. None of your characters have special powers so the variety is purely aesthetic.
High Risers is likely to keep you stuck in front of your phone for hours. Its simple controls let you play with just one hand and its retro graphics are sure to delight from the get-go. They may not be its strong point but the characters are meticulously designed and the staging of the levels compels you to want to discover them all.