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App of the Day: Super Lemonade Factory

Citric asset.

Where would video games be without the humble crate? Broad-shouldered marines would have to find something else to crouch behind, bad guys would have to store their munitions in an untidy pile, and pressure-activated mechanisms would remain untriggered.

And, in this post-WWII puzzle-platformer, married protags Andre and Liselot wouldn't be able to negotiate the titular facility in order to get the deeds from Andre's dying father. Actually, Liselot would be fine (being French, she can double-jump) but her beloved would be forever stuck on the ground floor, grasping impotently at platforms beyond the reach of his measly single leap.

Fortunately, there are plenty of small boxes that Liselot can push down to aid her husband's ascent. For his part, Andre can smash through larger crates that block their route and give his wife a piggyback.

To properly complete a level you'll need to talk to all workers, find the lemonade bottle and talk to Andre.

Across three chapters and 36 levels it doesn't ever get more complicated than that, though the challenge gradually steepens as hazards (spiked platforms, more spiked platforms) become more frequent. Which might seem like a fairly severe health and safety issue, but I guess Andre Snr. had to keep the Nazis out during the occupation somehow. The newlyweds have two lives each to complete a stage, though bags of sugar can refill the tally. Find a bottle on every level in a chapter and you can unlock Hardcore stages, where the platforms get narrower and just about every surface is pointed.

With one character good at jumping, the other handy at carrying stuff and the object to reunite the pair at the exit, it's oddly reminiscent of Jon Ritman/Bernie Drummond classic Head Over Heels, only without the dogs, Daleks and doughnut guns. What keeps it interesting is its story, filled in between chapters and from conversations between Liselot and the factory workers.

Brief snatches of dialogue convey a sense of the societal issues of the times, from labour relations to the role of industry in times of war - at one stage, you're encouraged to consider the ethical dilemma of supplying drinks to soldiers for a further military campaign.

The workers have their own personality quirks, but all are deadly to the touch. There's probably a metaphor for the class system there somewhere.

Other workers discuss the day-to-day running of the factory, while chats between Andre and Liselot reveal the background to their courtship. (Andre can't talk to anyone but Liselot, presumably because the conversation would eventually turn to his rubbish jump and that'd just get embarrassing.)

All this adds a welcome zing to a concoction in danger of turning flat after the first few fizzy gulps. The sugary aftertaste comes courtesy of the enchantingly rudimentary 8-bit graphics and a chiptune soundtrack that burps out an endearingly incongruous background racket. Beyond that, its controls are sharp and forgiving but the puzzles don't vary from first minute to last. Good job, then, that the focus shifts to precision leaping in the latter stages.

Super Lemonade Factory isn't the best puzzle-platformer you'll play on iOS. It's probably not the best puzzle-platformer you'll play on iOS this month, in fact. It's an acquired taste but it's one that's unusual and memorable enough to be worth the meagre investment.

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.