Sunday, September 2, 2012

Granny Smith [Mediocre] - $0.99

It seems like there’s always a great $0.99 game to be bought within the AppStore (especially around the holidays when there‘s sales galore, thank you Labor Day!). This week, one of the most interesting games to hit the AppStore was Mediocre's Granny Smith. Mediocre might sound familiar to some of you, they’re the developers of the great little physics-based action puzzler, Sprinkle [FREE] and Sprinkle Junior [$1.99]. Now, I will admit that I was a bit hesitant before purchasing Granny Smith, mainly because there hasn't been one ‘Granny’ game that has stayed on my iDevice for longer than a couple hours. Thankfully, all of those hesitations were for naught, because Granny Smith is one great little game.

The objective of the game is to race a kid who’s trying to get to 3 apples per stage before you can. You’re both on roller-skates, and can both grab on to certain objects. You’re given two buttons, one for jumping, which also rotates you, clockwise, while in the air, and another which lets you grab onto objects like wires, and handles with your cane. With all characters wearing skates, movement is handled automatically.
Granny Smith contains 36 well designed stages spread across 3 different environments, the Farmlands, the City and the Factory. Scoring is based on how many coins you can collect while racing through each level, as well as how many apples you can snag, and the way you land your jumps. You’ve given more points for a perfect landing (landing straight up) and less for landing crooked. You’ll also earn more points the more times you rotate while in the air. If you’re not going for a high-score, you won’t really need to worry about this, but it does add an extra layer of difficulty and challenge to the gameplay. Along with the great scoring system, after you complete each level, you’re also able to watch a replay in vintage black-n-white with different camera angels and slow motion effects, which is a really spiffy little addition to the game. 

When you reach the City and the Factory, extra characters are unlocked and available to equip in the Tool Shed. You’ll start off with Granny Smith, and then unlock Scruffy the Dog and move on to Stanley, an older man. There are no stat increases or special abilities for the different characters, making it purely cosmetic, but it’s nice to be able to decide who you want to race with. 
Also available in the Tool Shed are consumable items; a helmet which protects you from crashing, banana peels which you can toss behind you to make the kid fall and baseballs which you can use to either slow the kid down while he’s in front of you, or to break through objects before you collide with them, making it so that they don’t slow you down at all. Of course, you are able to purchase coins, via IAP, which you can use to buy these items, but they are not required, and with the amount of coins scattered throughout each level, as well as the ability to replay previously beaten levels as many times as you want, and retry levels that have these items found at the beginning of them so you can stock up without spending coins, chances are, unless you’re having trouble with a specific level, you’ll never even need to purchase these items. 

Graphically, Granny Smith looks and feels very reminiscent of Mediocre’s previous release, Sprinkle. There’s also enough variety throughout each environment that not all of the levels look the same, keeping it from getting boring if you’re stuck replaying a few levels. The animations are also well done, with nice physics and inertia handled while crashing through environmental objects, and smooth jumping/flying through the air animations. The background music is basically what you’d expect for a game with a grandma in it; old-school classical/jazz. With the sound effects lending a hand, it does help to craft an inviting gameplay experience. Luckily, if the music isn’t really you’re thing, you can turn it off separate the sound effects and listen to your own music while playing. 

With GameCenter integration driving the replay value with leaderboards for your total cumulative score as well as boards for each of the 3 environments. Sadly, there are no achievements, but hopefully these can be added in a future update. Also coming in a future update will be more levels. The time it takes to complete the game will, of course, differ from person to person, but it should take between 2-5 hours depending on whether or not you want to collect all 3 apples in each stage, and how good you get with the jump/rotating characters. There’s also the extended replay value if you decide you want to go score-chasing on the GC boards, and with 13,730 players ATM, chances are it’ll take a lot of practice in order to reach the top 25. With Granny Smith priced at $0.99 and being Universal, it’s a great Platform-Racer that everyone even remotely interested in the genre should check out, and with the fantastic support that Mediocre has given Sprinkle, you can be very confident that more levels will come in a future update. 


Hmm, I would have probably pass right over this one! Thanks for the review!

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