To simplify Poinpy, you could call it the opposite of Downwell. The comparison is relevant as both games come from creator Ojiro Fumoto. In Downwell, you make your way down a well shooting enemies and collecting upgrades as you fall. In Poinpy, you make your way up a well and collect fruit to feed the giant Blue Beast that is chasing you upward. In practice, though, Poinpy has mechanics and a style all its own that expertly gamifies an action anyone who has ever used a modern phone is familiar with: the downward swipe.
Poinpy is the titular bouncy dinosaur-like protagonist creature that wouldn’t look out of place in a lineup with Kirby and Yoshi. In the game, you are outrunning a giant Blue Beast who always lingers at the bottom of the screen, demanding specific fruit recipes. To climb, you drag down on the screen to slingshot Poinpy upwards, bouncing them against walls and leaping off enemies while collecting specific fruit that randomly appears. The downward swipe action is the key to Poinpy’s fun as it feels great to constantly launch them to progress. The mechanic perfectly encapsulates the video game idiom easy to learn, hard to master. My early runs were enjoyable as I awkwardly careened off the walls while not totally clear on my objective, but by the end of my playtime I felt like an acrobat expertly lining up my jumps to bounce off one enemy to collect the final banana and slamming down to deposit a mountain of juice into the blue beast’s mouth below.
All the practice in the world, though, does not overcome the occasional annoyance of making a mistake. Understanding how to gain additional jumps, earned from bouncing off of enemies and pots, is what leads you to success, and the on-screen icons don’t do the best job of quickly reminding you how many jumps you have left. On more than one occasion, I would think I was in good shape to grab the last kiwi I needed, only to learn too late that I was out of jumps and came crashing to the ground. At that point, you have to restart the recipe, which is a huge bummer especially during the late-game. This is, of course, the challenge of the game–managing jumps to collect the fruit you need–but sometimes it feels a little too punishing.