There's this quiet place tucked down a country lane where Magritte and Miyamoto are conversing under the leafy canopy of an English orchard as gentle folk tunes whistle away on the breeze. It's where fruit comes gushing from the trees, where catatonic pandas stalk and where washing machines run free. It is, all told, the perfect place to while away a summer afternoon.
If there's anything that can be said for Apple Jack 2 it's that it manages to infuse the eccentricity that defined the '80s heyday of the bedroom coder with the design sensibilities of Nintendo at its platforming best without ever breaking a sweat. There's much more that can be said for it, though, and beneath the soft, whimsical exterior of My Owl's Xbox Live Indie Games follow-up is a game of exquisite smarts.
You're the eponymous Apple Jack, an everyman with fruit for a head who, in this sequel to the 2010 original, finds himself tied to a life behind a desk, dreaming of freedom. It's the Son of Man finding himself in a nine-to-five and doing a Reggie Perrin - losing himself in a surreal world that sees the Mushroom Kingdom transposed to a quiet corner of Suffolk. What follows is a game that takes the knockabout action of Super Mario Bros. 2 and spins it out with the clumsy energy of a cider-soaked spring afternoon.