Decades ago, when smartphones magically transformed into video game devices, I was very much a mobile gaming guy. I’d spend hours of my commute time on games like Doodle Jump, Angry Birds or Tiny Wings.
Then at some point, I just… stopped playing video games on my phone. I never got hooked on any of the Clash of Clans style games or any exploitive pay to win online experiences. Slowly but surely, my phone became like a washing machine or a fridge – a piece of technology that solves a handful of extremely rote problems and nothing more. No fun allowed.
But then I started playing Poinpy.
Poinby is the latest game by Ojiro Fumoto, better known as the guy who made Downwell, a gorgeously tactile retro shooter about a man who jumps down a well, blasting a lot of things in the process.
But in Poinpy you don’t go down. Poinpy is very much a video game about going up.
At base level Poinpy is a video game about gathering fruit to feed a threatening looking monster intent on murdering you. But, mechanically, it’s something of a greatest hits, borrowing liberally from viral mobile games of yesteryear. Much like Doodle Jump, Poinpy has you moving upward, only using slingshot arcs precisely like the ones in Angry Birds. Players slowly earn upgrades, making you more powerful — like in, say, Jetpack Joyride. And you find yourself using those upgrades to reach new levels like you might in… every video game ever made.
For someone like me, who bounced off mobile games after its first Golden Age, Poinpy is the perfect entry point. Familiar yet new, it’s a pastiche of something comfortable but does just enough to keep you on your toes.
Because Poinpy isn’t just about going up, it’s about collecting the right type of fruit, to feed a rampaging monster as a timer ticks ominously in the background. If you don’t collect the right type of fruit quickly enough, you lose and have to start over. The time limit creates a panicked claustrophobia in the player and I can’t get enough of it.
Better still, Poinpy is dense with flourishes that allow the best players to perform spectacular moments of skill. You’re given a limited number of jumps to collect the right kind of fruit to feed the rampaging monster, but it’s possible to break that limit via attacks on smaller monsters patrolling the levels. This provides the opportunity to create all kinds of inventive combos, forcing you to invent creative solutions on the fly in high pressure situations. The more you play, the better you become at manipulating the game’s limited toolset, creating a sensation of mastery exclusive to the most effectively designed video games.
In short: Poinpy rules.
Perhaps the most bizarre part of Poinpy: It’s a Netflix video game. It’s not just a game funded by Netflix, it’s a game exclusive to Netflix subscribers. After downloading and opening the app on the App Store, players need to sign into Netflix to play, which is just… incredibly interesting. Not entirely sure of the strategy there.
Would a game like Poinpy inspire people to sign up for Netflix? I can’t imagine it, unless it was the first in an expansive library of-esque video games. It doesn’t come close to justifying Netflix’s monthly fee, but it is a nice bonus for existing Netflix subscribers. I’d also love to see Netflix launch more games like this in the future and help unique creators like Ojiro Fumoto bring their games to broader audiences.
Either way, if you have a Netflix subscription, and you’re looking for a game that takes you back to the halcyon days on endless mobile gaming, you could do a lot worse than Poinpy.