Leave out to thaw.
iPhone and Android gaming has grown stale. Where big money awaited independant developers willing to set aside their Sunday afternoon for some light programming, now sits another upset fowl. Only the biggest franchises seem to have any draw these days and that spells trouble for anyone else just now getting their iOS development studio off the ground. Still, I think mobile devs have themselves to thank for this new lack of opportunity.
Take Ice Mechanica. This $1.99 iOS game presents another tilt-based puzzle platformer where you need to move your device to navigate treacherous levels. The faster you get through, the more points you score. Finish a level without dying and you'll double your score. Even a safe premise like this falls short when a mom's garage-sized cist appears to remind the user of just how amateur things have gotten for mobile gaming.
In Ice Mechanica, Comic Sans MS is everywhere you look. This brought my palm to my face with startling velocity. It feels strange to reprimand a title for its choice of font, especially when the choice is obvious, but when Comic Sans MS is involved, we have to stop and wag the finger. I know nothing about design, but I still think the ska-minded punkers with flannel and black leather hanging outside the club on Gilman St. in Berkeley, CA have a better grasp of aesthetics than someone who uses Comic Sans MS.
While textures and a total lack of vibrancy throughout the game leave a lot to be desired, the gameplay itself is so derivative and unenthusiastic that it doesn't take long to hit the home button in an effort to pull yourself back through the looking glass. Spinning blades, walls that close in and crush the player, and challenges that you'll only ever pass with repeated attempts feel boring and tired in light of similar titles flooding the App Store.
Where the iOS market used to represent creativity, Ice Mechanica only serves to remind us of the outright thievery conducted in the market's early days. Nothing about the game presents a sense of value in the experience, even after the puzzles get gruesomely challenging or you're forced to lead another eyeball device through a level.... Because that's what this game needed... escort missions.
There are a few neat tricks and some genuinely challenging levels to tilt-navigate through, but I couldn't help but feel like Ice Mechanica was wasting my time after taking months of the developer's life. The checkpoint system ensures that players will make it through the game whether they have fun or not, but ultimately fun won't be a factor.
Let's hope that updates can better Ice Mechanica's UI and design and that developer Blindspot Creative can do better next time. At least a socially conscious game would have had more of a message, but Ice Mechanica kind of undermines the label "time-waster" by taking the player's attention for granted.