App of the Day: Mr Legs

Walkabout.

Poor Mr Legs, eh? Look at his bleached potato head, with those hollow eye sockets staring blindly. Observe that spooky, hovering bowler hat, and those weird stumpy flippers in place of arms. Most of all, though, what's up with the legs, Mr Legs? They're fragile, insect-thin filaments of gristle, and they can stretch so that your skull is pushed up against the ceiling, or squash, until your fat little body is touching the ground. What happened to you?

We'll never know, most likely. Mr Legs is the stuff of childish horrors, a vacant clown of a man, stumbling through a largely monochromatic world filled with ghastly dangers. Luckily, he's also the titular star of a wonderfully bizarre Android-exclusive arcade game by I Like James Games, so while you may never truly come to love this wretched, shambling monster, it's at least worth spending some time in his company.

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Always nice to find an Android exclusive. Hopefully the next one won't be quite so creepy.

Mr Legs is an auto-runner: a game about working your way through a series of ever-scrolling levels, collecting cherries and power pills (they boost your multiplier, I think) and ducking obstacles like crows and bombs. Crows and bombs are bad, it turns out: the former wants to fly straight into your face, the latter wants to explode, covering you in soot. Both of them need to be avoided, and here's where Mr Legs' unique gimmick comes in.

While you can't stop Mr Legs from moving, or even make him jump, which is the standard point of interaction in most Canabalt-alikes, you can stretch him and squash him, pushing him down into the ground, or dragging him up to the top of the screen. This allows his body to avoid the various enemies that come his way, and it allows his mouth to gulp up the strands of cherries that are strung through each level.

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Nothing brings on the panic like a flock of crows.

It also makes his legs either longer or shorter, and that, as you might expect, increases or diminishes his stride, meaning he moves faster or slower depending on his height. This is where most of the challenge comes from, as it turns out. When Mr Legs is as tall as the screen itself, he's rattling along at quite a pace: that's good for ducking mid-level obstacles, perhaps, but it means you'll have to react fast when a crow or a bomb comes along aimed at his head. When he's at the bottom of the screen, you have a lot more time to respond to the things the game flings at you - but you're also right in the firing line for most of them.

Playing Mr Legs is a bit like controlling a quietly horrific accordion, then, as you race across the landscape, pushing up and down as the course requires. The backdrops are wonderfully loopy 2D fantasy lands and the audio is sheer music-hall creepiness, shot through with the occasional yelp or quip from Mr Legs himself.

Auto-runners are in danger of swamping Android and iOS at the moment, perhaps, but Mr Legs is inventive enough and approachable enough - mainly thanks to a new, easier difficulty setting that was added in a recent update - to be worth taking for a quick stroll. Onwards!

App of the Day highlights interesting games we're playing on the Android, iPad, iPhone and Windows Phone 7 mobile platforms, including post-release updates. If you want to see a particular app featured, drop us a line or suggest it in the comments.

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