1. Introduce game world.
2. Set out game rules.
3. Iterate through levels, increasing difficulty each time.
4. Force player into un-winnable situation, before finally allowing the player to break the rules to progress.
Its this final stage that so many developers don’t implement, but breaking the rules of the game is one of the most satisfying things a gamer can do. The end of The Chronicles of Riddick allows you to stomp around in a giant robot after hours of sneaking and hiding. The end of Modern Warfare 3 allows you to soak up bullets in your robotic body armour instead of running for cover. Breaking the rules of a game is a much more fun experience than following them. The developers of Plum Crazy know this. How do you break the rules of Plum Crazy? We’ll have to tell you what the rules are first!
In Plum Crazy you roll around a simple map , constrained by the walls that make a Pac Man style maze. You collect fruit, and also avoid fruit. Some fruit bad, other fruit good. Its a standard collect and avoid affair. Touch screen controls are intuitive with swipes causing your Plum avatar to roll in the direction that you want him to. You can continually swipe, or swipe once and hold to contiue to roll in one direction.
The challenge of the game comes from a unique idea. You don’t have to avoid enemies. Instead, you have to make sure you don’t roll to the edge o the screen. This is complicated by the fact that the screen display moves around. This movement is slow but you need to keep an eye on it at all times. Effectively the view of the game world is moving and if you don’t keep up and roll off stage you die.
With the basic rules laid out, how do you break them? Well in Plum Crazy you can collect power ups. These allow you to roll over the walls that make up the level. In the same way that your character is able to chomp up fruit, you can devour the walls of the level, all the while earning bonus points. This is a fantastically satisfying thing to do. It might be all those years of playing something like Pac Man where the walls are immutable and indestructible, but there is something thrilling about simply rolling over the walls of the game world. It feels forbidden; like cheating. Its brilliant.
There are problems with the game too though. The basic control method works well enough, but you need to keep a finger on the screen to keep your character moving. As a result, you often end up with your finger in a place that obscures the action. This position will be different all the time as you need to swipe in various directions to make your Plum move. For some reason the same control scheme doesn’t apply when you are powered up and able to eat your way through the walls. When in this state you will keep rolling even when the player is not touching the screen. I’m not sure if others would agree, but I would have enjoyed the game far more if this was the default control scheme all the time.
The package as a whole is well put together but very similar to your typical iOS game. There’s little charm in the menu screens which are in your standard Angry Birds style. The art style is fun and cartoon-y though, and there’s something about the terrified, shivering Plums that are simultaneously amusing and weirdly disturbing at the same time. The tunes are cheery nonsense that you will likely tire of quickly.
Plum Crazy is a fun and bright diversion that takes classic gameplay and gives it enough of a twist to be interesting. Its proof positive that clever game design consists of more than just setting out a well designed set of rules. To really stand out, you have to let the player misbehave a little. In other words, this game lets you misbehave with your Plums.
7 misplaced dirty jokes in reviews out of 10