Retry – Why Both Apple And Rovio ‘Could Try Harder’.

Everyone knows how difficult it is for indie devs without a massive marketing budget to get visibility on the AppStore, which is why the minimal amount of curation Apple does is so important for indies – and why it’s doubly depressing to see the “Editor’s Choice” section of the AppStore so often filled with big-budget, big-name titles. Do consumers really need to have yet another ‘Saga’ or ‘Angry Birds’ game rammed down their throats when King/Rovio’s overflowing marketing coffers are quite capable of doing that without Apple’s help? Whenever I take a look at the “Editor’s Choice” section the vast majority of it seems to consist of titles that have already been pushed at me through some other marketing channel (usually Facebook or in-app advertising).

Anyway, self-righteous moaning aside, I thought I’d give Rovio’s ‘Retry’ (which was #1 in the “Editor’s Choice” section a few days ago) a spin and see if there was enough quality there to justify it’s placement. Despite my sour-grapes cynicism and automatic distrust of big-budget apps I’m working on a pixel-art type project at the moment and the game art intrigued me if nothing else.

What a major disappointment. ‘Retry’ is a game so woefully lacking in imagination that it makes ‘Custer’s Revenge’ look like ‘Ocarina Of Time’. My real problem with ‘Retry’ though is not the paucity of original ideas within it, or that it’s a bad game (it’s not actually that bad if I’m honest). My issue with it is that the boardroom level thinking that must have given birth to it is so obvious that Rovio may as well have transcribed the meeting minutes in the App Description:

“Fellow Directors, I feel we’ve reached about level 7 of the game they call ‘Shit Creek’. People are getting bored of ‘Angry Birds’ and the shareholders are getting twitchy about all these layoffs. We need another Big Idea – something to prove “Angry Birds” wasn’t just a fluke. You all get paid enormous salaries – what have you got for me?”

“Well, that ‘Flappy Bird’ game was huge and it was made by just the one guy. Imagine if we took a concept that braindead and then threw shedloads of money at it!”

“Good idea – we wouldn’t even need shedloads of money. These mofos love that retro pixel-art shit and it’s a piece of piss to churn that stuff out. We can even copy some old SNES games!”

“Sold! We can’t use a bird though, too hard to animate. What about a plane – they’re easy to draw?”

“Genius idea – we could call it ‘Big Budget Flappy Plane’!!”

“We’re so cool. No wonder this company is worth biilions. See you soon Rovi-bros!”

I do like the art though, the art is pretty cool. And it’s not really nicked from a SNES title – it’s simple, chunky, colourful and general very appealing. And the plane control is quite nice when you get the hang of it. The main problem (and it’s a big problem) with the gameplay is that the sprite sizes and game physics are so designed that you simply can’t see far enough in front of you to react effectively to what’s coming up, making success more about memorising the levels than anything else. I guess if that’s your thing though….

Did I mention I have a ‘Flappy Bird’ clone coming out? Guilty as charged, your honour.

Retry – aka Big Budget Flappy Plane

Budget Wouldn’t Stretch To A Crash Anim Though

Custer’s Revenge – Don’t Even Go There

Floppy Frog – NOT a Flappy Bird Clone, Honest

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