You’ve played it on your phone. Now play it with less money in your wallet!
Cut the Rope, in case you don’t have a smartphone, is a mobile game where the intent is to collect stars around a level and use the various pulleys, levers, magical top hats, and of course cut ropes to feed a piece of candy to a tiny, adorable dinosaur. While feeding a tiny dinosaur (whose name is Om Nom, how fitting) candy and sweeties is actually the number four cause in the US of diabetes—right behind the horror that is Candy Crush—it also makes a cute backdrop for what I like to call “gravity games." That is, games that involve transporting an object around a playfield from point A to point B like a Rube Goldberg machine, as complexly as possible while performing what is, essentially, a simple task.
The object is simple, but the puzzles themselves typically are not. Some allow for some time before you decide on a move, others require acting fast right off the bat, and still others allow for some time but need fast, planned reflexive cuts and taps to successfully feed that little bastard. The difficulty curve always starts out low, but after a few stages can range wildly from stage to stage, which can be infuriating if you’re a 100% type of fella.
It seems to only hurt worse when the game looks to be designed for five-year-olds who love both candy and dinosaurs. Who knew they’d be handing it over to mom or dad after every puzzle because of their lack of complex critical-thinking skills? They can develop with some simple, tap-or-swipe controls, both easy enough for the kids to play with and parents to pick up once they’re handed the 3DS (and show the young ones their MASSIVE POWER. Kids, listen to your parents… most of the time).
And to make things more complex, as the title states there are actually three games on the one cartridge: the original, Experiments, and Time Travel. The point of the game is the same across all three, but the difference lies in the backdrops and minor touches; TT, for example, is themed to different major parts of history (only the important parts, like Ancient Greece and Disco) while also including a second Om Nom character from that era that also needs feeding, and new tools and obstacles in Experiments. The added elements are nice and are worth the added stages, like the ability to freeze everything and have it begin again without any of the momentum that it might have had before, and bring a lot of life to what might otherwise be a grueling set of challenges.
What makes me happiest on this cartridge is the one noteworthy "extra" feature: the addition of 18 “episodes” of the web series "Om Nom Stories," the first batch of which feature Om Nom in a Roger Rabbit-esque animated-style coexisting with the real world, both interacting and playing with the environment. It’s not a 3D sprite either; it’s what looks to be a hand-drawn baby dino knocking stuff off of shelves, causing a mess, hiding under a shaking pillow in fear, all the good stuff. While the series does continue still, 18 episodes at a minute-thirty-or-so each isn’t too bad. It’s more than I expected from a game playable on my phone, and they’re all well done. It reminds me of my youth, way back in the… well, let’s not go crazy, it wasn’t that long ago, but long enough that I’ve forgotten what fun kids animation could be.
One of the games I’ve spent the most time in recent years playing is, I admit, Bejeweled 3 on my DS and 3DS (I even did a review of it way back when). So I’m not new to the concept of a full retail version of an otherwise inexpensive phone or PC-based game on a mobile platform. I mean, I’ve spent nearly 160 hours—and counting—playing Bejeweled on my handhelds. So for a budget-price game you definitely do get your money’s worth. Still, knowing I could pay upwards of thirty bucks for three games in Cut The Rope: Triple Treat, I could instead pay upwards of four for strikes me as steep. Throw in the cartoons and it starts to make up the difference, but in practice it’s how I imagine paying full price for Duke Nukem Forever must’ve been like. The difference being, of course, that I’ll be playing this later to sharpen skills instead of reminding my future offspring how dreadful hype can get.