Monday, October 25, 2010

App O' The Mornin': Catapult Madness Review

Grade: F
Price:  free

I know that the word "free" has a powerful appeal. I get that, really I do.

But sometimes even free isn't enough to justify something's popularity. I'm not sure why Catapult Madness has been squatting atop the Free Apps charts for the past week. I'd love to see the number of downloads compared against a more relevant statistic, such as "time on device." I'm betting Catapult Mania would appear on some other charts, such as "Fastest Deletion" or "Most Likely to Make You Want to Kick the Developer in the Face."

This is kind of your basic ballistic app, only lacking anything that might make it interesting or appealing. Your task is to fling a peasant as fas as possible using a catapult. The trigger control is basic powerbar combo: hit one button to set the power of the throw, and another to set the angle. It's not too hard to land your taps right in the sweets spots for maximum power and ideal angle.

The peasant starts flying through the sky, end over end. Let me tell you something: this is one of the most unappealing animations I've ever seen in an app. The spinning peasant gave me a headache after about 3 seconds. The little cartoon character just spins around and around, slowly coming to earth only to bounce again and again. Sometimes it hits objects that increase its bouncing and thus the total distance traveled.

At certain points, you can apply various boosters, such as bombs, magic, wings, and flatulence to help extend the total distance. The goal is to get the longest distance possible, with an unlimited mode unlocked at 50,000 feet. Along the way, you earn money to buy more powerups to increase your distance. Although traveling long and far is the prime objective, the game is so horrible to look at that you don't even want the sucker to keep going.

Look, I like throwing things as much as the next guy.  Sometimes I just wander around my yard throwing stuff until the nice men bring me the thorazine--because that's just how I roll. The desire to fling lies at the heart of Angry Birds and many other fine apps.

And you know what else lies at the heart of Angry Birds and many other fine apps? A freakin' game, that's what.

Oh, and it crashes. A lot. Please don't tell me this has to do with my memory. I run all my review games with a clean boot. This thing doesn't need memory problems to make it crash. The programming code is probably so appalled at being used for such a wretched purpose that it actually tries to flee in horror and shame.

I almost gave this one a D because the background art is okay. And then I thought: I'm actually giving a full letter grade for background art that doesn't quite rise the same level of incompetence as the rest of the production? Thus, the F.


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