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Cut the Rope 2 is a lovable adventure with an interesting take on in-app purchases

Cut the Rope has spawned a massive empire of physics-centered mobile gameplay. From the first game's staggering 400 million downloads to the myriad spinoffs dropping candy into Om Nom's mouth, this game is big business. Now Om Nom is back -- exclusively for iOS -- in the series' first official sequel and Cut the Rope has never been better, even when you take into account the in-app purchases.

Cut the Rope 2: Om Nom's Unexpected Adventure builds upon all of the minor details that made the first game such a smash hit. Players are tasked with cutting ropes to manipulate the environment in such a way that candy will fall into our adorable green hero's mouth. Along the way, players collect stars to get higher and higher scores.

Om Nom has more personality than ever before, reacting with fear, joy, frustration and sadness depending on how you play. There were numerous times during my first play-through where I found myself audibly giggling at Om's adorable responses. He feels more like a character and less like a goal post this time around. You may find yourself poking the little guy sometimes just to make him laugh and squirm.

The levels are designed to be played through quickly, but present a range of solutions, making the title appealing whether you're playing waiting for your bus or hunkering down to just focus on gaming. At launch, the game features five worlds with 120 levels in total that take Om through city parks, forests, a junk yard, a dam and under the very ground itself. There are also an extra 20 levels available for players who collect the four-leaf clovers that are scattered about the maps.

Om Nom isn't alone in his quest this time around, thanks to the addition of five different Nommies, creatures that help our hero on his quest to eat all of the candy. Discovering how to use each Nommie to your advantage is part of the fun.

Lick, an odd orange anteater-like creature, shoots his tongue out to form bridges or blockages when you tap him. Sometimes you'll use him to trap balloon-adorned candy from floating away; sometimes he'll provide a ramp. Other friends allow you to build blocks, fly candy and scare Om into jumping to new levels.

There are power-ups available for Om's adventure, and they're a bittersweet affair. There are only three of them available, and depending on how you play, they're all useful. Players can use balloons to lift candy around levels, get hints to three star solutions and create candy storms for higher scores. The game gives you a limited number of uses of each power up, but then asks you to cough up your hard-earned dough to buy more. Thankfully, you don't need to buy power-ups to finish the game, but it's obvious you're missing out if you don't have some balloons.

Here's where developers ZeptoLab are throwing addicts a bone. Yes, in-game transactions suck. It's terrible, especially in a game that you pay to buy, to have to pay extra money to get the full game experience. ZeptoLabs however has listened to the calls of people who say, "I wish I could just pay X amount and get the full game." So on top of paying a little at a time for a small number of power-ups, players are also given the option of paying one lump sum for infinite amounts of power-ups.

For $49.99, you get unlimited uses of all three power-ups. It's more expensive to buy infinite supplies individually; balloons will currently only set you back $19.99 due to a sale, while a never-ending Candy Rain or solutions will cost you $24.99. It all adds up, but at least they (sort of) listened to gamers who wanted the option to be free of nickel-and-diming. You still have to pay for hats, but since they don't affect the gameplay, I have no issue with these sorts of purchases.

The main game of Cut the Rope 2 will probably only take experienced players a few hours to finish, but each level has been augmented with secondary goals. Sometimes they take the form of high scores or finishing a level without cutting a single rope. It adds a nice layer of replay value to the game, although meeting these goals without shelling out more than the game's $0.99 price tag is basically impossible.

This week, I've spent a good 40 minutes going back and forth with myself on if I would buy infinite balloons or not. If Cut the Rope 2 was a full game for my console with several hundred levels that cost $19.99 and came with infinite balloons I would pay that amount happily. Of course, if Super Mario Bros. was released and they expected me to pay for the right to use a mushroom power-up, I'd be furious. The power-up is part of how the game is designed to be played. Why are you charging me for it?

In the end, I'm probably going to break down and buy the infinite balloons. Cut the Rope 2 is an incredibly clever game, full of humor and joy. The graphics have been subtly upgraded with minor animations that add major depth to the title. Om Nom may not be a fully realized character with a Frank Miller-worthy backstory, but you will giggle at his fears and smile when he celebrates.

ZeptoLabs has shown a commitment to adding new levels to its games, so in a month or two, there are sure to be more than 120 levels available for the game. But as it stands right now on release day? Cut the Rope 2 is well worth your $0.99, and at least one argument with yourself over whether you should buy unlimited balloons.



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Gaming iOS

Cut the Rope has spawned a massive empire of physics-centered mobile gameplay. From the first game's staggering 400 million downloads to...