What else is a person to do than flip some phones when you are trying to warn people about something and they ignore you because they are so caught up in their mobile devices? It doesn't matter if the disaster is something important, like an incoming meteor storm or maybe less important like a leak in Internet Explorer. If smacking phones out of people's hands are the only way to get their attention, then so be it.
Flippin' Phones is the product of a 48 hour game jamming session by a new two-man team from the Netherlands called BlauwPrint. They put in a few days extra work polishing up the concept, but it is still very much a basic arcade experience. The concept is pretty solid though, and sees you guiding your little pixilated alarmist through a mall slapping phones out of people's hands. This causes them to follow you around and the goal is to guide them to the safety of your cardboard box. The more people you can lead to the box the bigger your score, but there are also policemen who do not take kindly to your anti-social antics. The police can either be slapped or avoided by jumping over them, but both these activities tire out your character, In fact, the mere act of running around causing panic causes him to start sweating uncontrollably. Forcing him to stand still for a few seconds cools him down, but if you overdo things he won't have the strength to slap or dodge the police and if they touch him it is game over.
Guiding people to your cardboard box is pretty much all there is to do in the game and it reminded us a lot of the high-score chasing arcade titles of the eighties. No matter how good you are the cops will eventually catch your character, so it is all about racking up as much points as possible before he is busted. Seeing as the whole point of the game is the score it is a bit strange that there is no high-score table to display your accomplishments and encourage you to do better the next time you play.
Visually the game is pretty rough with little gray silhouettes representing the folks on their phones and a single monochromatic photo of a real mall as the level background. The mall has three floors connected by escalators, but each floor has the same background image, only in a different hue. The police chasing you have little flashing sirens on their heads in order to distinguish them in the chaos of flipping phones, plants, hot-dog stands and whatever else gets in the way of your character. The people you "rescue" communicate via text above their sprites, but as you tend to run around with hordes of them following you their text overlaps making it impossible to see what they are saying. It's not like you have time to stand still and gawk at what is on their minds either as the pace of the game is frantic. You are safe from the police on the escalators that connect the different floors, but your character cannot rest on them either as this would have made the game too easy.
While the 2D visuals could do with a lot of improvement, the audio is actually pretty good and the background music is perfect for the chaotic action taking place. The tunes really sounds like something that you would hear in a movie during a chase scene. The controls are responsive enough and we didn't encounter any issues using an Xbox 360 controller to maneuver the character. Slapping is handled automatically as you are moving and you only have to press one button to jump and hold down another to ride the escalators.
As much as we like the idea behind Flippin' Phones the version that we played feels a little bit bare bones. It is definitely a fun title when played in short bursts, but the lack of depth hurts the replay value. If the developers can build on the core concept and boost the presentation, then there is a lot of potential here for something competitive and addictive, but until then I'm afraid most people will simply judge the game by its looks or compare it to the myriad of free Flash titles available online. The developers are offering the game on itch.io as what they call "a pay-what-you-want-nothing-counts-too download" so it is hard to be too critical, but there is definitely room for improvements. If you are in the mood for a fast paced, score chasing arcade experience you will definitely have some fun with Flippin' Phones and it is only a 5 MB download, so give it a try and decide for yourself.
TAGS: Flippin' Phones, Mall, Police, Chase,
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