Deep within the depths of one particular Amazonian jungle, a very serious problem has become apparent. Firstly, an evil worm and his army have invaded, and secondly, they are threatening to transform the beautiful biome into a grimy bog. To stop their wicked plan, Toby the teenage armadillo embarks on the perilous quest that is Ranger Up Armadillo.
Structurally, Ranger Up Armadillo is a timed puzzle experience with RPG elements. Players begin with 1,000 gold stars, the game’s currency, which they can collect throughout the 60 levels and use to purchase weapon upgrades and/or level up. It’s a neat, effective system that will translates well for anyone familiar with the XP progression system. A quick, clear tutorial walks you through the gameplay – which is rather inventory heavy and involves careful timing and precision. Players have to quickly assess the environment and determine which tool they’ll need, assisting Toby with ladders, balloons, wooden planks to reach higher ledges where he can defeat the worm minions.
While conceptually brilliant, Ranger Up Armadillo is frequently hampered by cognitive overload – not so much the abundance of buttons, but the difficulty of pressing them accurately on a touch device and positioning objects correctly within the scant one minute time frame. In addition, quitting a level and/or losing costs one life; When Toby has a total of five lives and one takes 20 minutes to regenerate, losing a life for quitting mid level seems overly harsh. Removing the exit penalty, and pausing the timer when players either access inventory or the menu during gameplay would help with bringing the difficulty level to equilibrium.
The most striking thing about Ranger Up Armadillo is without a doubt its colourful, sumptuously crafted visuals. Both the environment and character art convey a lovely, cartoonish finesse with quality so good it could have its own animation. Complementary fairytale style music adds the perfect aesthetic polish, and the diversity in future level designs is refreshing and entices players onward. Overall, Ranger Up Armadillo is a conceptually fantastic puzzle title in a Lemmings style micromanagement genre that would suit PC much better than mobile, mostly due to mouse precision and a fairer difficulty balance.