iPhone Game Review: Roadkill Cafe
*UPDATE* (08/06/09): Roadkill Cafe now has a lite version, more touch control options, statistics, and stores local device scores offline.
Once you start up Roadkill Cafe you take on the role of Slim LaChance. Who the heck is Slim LaChance? As one of the Atommo developers described him, "Slim is a man of few words and fewer teeth. But when opportunity knocks at his door, or expires on the road in front of his house, he shows himself to be a true man of action. A dedicated environmentalist, he forgoes the trappings of the modern world and relies on human-powered vehicles, local customers, and recycling. Nothing goes to waste. Just don't look too closely at the food.' What is it you?ll be doing as Slim then? Simply running around a busy highway with a wheelbarrow scooping up roadkill that, via some long kept secret family recipe and an industrial sized deep fryer, you?ll be turning into tasty vittles.
Gameplay of the game?s primary Cafe Mode goes as follows: Using either touch or tilt based controls you make Slim scurry over the freeway picking up (simply by running over) ?pre-flattened meat patties? and then touch base back at the caf? (simply bumping into it from any side) to dump off your load. Whenever you dump off fresh meat at the cafe you?ll see a little vertical red bar indicating your current meat level which will step down in increments with each customer that visits the cafe. As long as there is a sufficient supply of meat each customer will come away from the caf? ?fat and happy? which will in turn increase your cafe?s Customer Satisfaction rating. Once you get this Customer Satisfaction rating to a full five stars it?s on to a new and more challenging location. On the flip side, if you can?t keep up with customer demand and too many customers show up to be told, ?Sorry, we?re temporarily out of our marvelous mystery meat.?, your Customer Satisfaction rating will decrease. So your mission is to therefore keep your cafe well stocked with the freshest roadkill possible (your little flattened friends only remain fresh for a short period of time, you can?t pick them up once they?ve already turned into bones) while avoiding being hit. While your biggest threat on the freeway will obviously be the many vehicles zooming by at 70+ mph, you?ll also need to keep your eyes open for angry bears and charging rhinos (you heard me, rhinos). Once you run out of lives you?ll need to start that level over from scratch.
In addition to simply proceeding through the game?s main story (Caf? Mode), there is Arcade Mode in which you choose any of the previously completed Caf? Mode levels and see how long you can stay in business. In this mode you can never complete a level; it?s just a matter of serving up as many customers and therefore getting as high a score as you can until you run out of lives. For those of you tired of carting around dead carcasses there are even three additional mini games. These mini games are Survival (see how long you can survive running about on a busy freeway), Vengeance (killer chickens are closing in our defenseless protagonist, how long can he last?), and Rampage (Who loaned Slim a car? Now you can help Slim make his very own roadkill fillets).
The graphics in this game are cool semi-cell shaded 2D cartoony and fit the game?s tacky theme to a T. Sound is spot on as well, from the game?s twangy bluegrass music to how each animal has its own sound effect while moving. It even gives very satisfying squish sounds when our furry friends meet their end. The controls work great as well. The accelerometer controls are spot on and the touch controls, while responsive, might not be that intuitive since it isn?t that Slim will follow where you tap but that when touching the screen you?re operating a virtual D-Pad with the direction of your swipes determining Slim?s direction of movement even if on the other side of the screen.
Worth Noting: There is an update already in the hands of Apple?s mysterious App QA which adds more touch control options, tweaks gameplay difficulty balances, adds local device highscores (previously most of the game?s highscores were tracked online only), fixes a crash bug when switching control methods, and adds some fun useless player statistics!
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: -4.5- Cell shaded and cartoony 2D.
Sound: -4.5- Great stuff from the squishes to the bluegrass soundtrack.
Controls: -4- The accelerometer controls are spot on but the touch controls are a little unintuitive.
Gameplay: -4.5- The main game?s gameplay, at its heart, is pretty simple, scooping roadkill and dumping off at the caf? over and over. But the variety of maps and alternative mini-games will keep you coming back for more.
Playing Hints and Tips:
-Don't forget to dump! While your wheelbarrow can carry multiple carcases, until you dump them off at the cafe nobody will get to eat them.
-Squishing frogs makes you feel great! Frogs are the only animals Slim can squish personally with his wheelbarrow and the sheer joy he gets from doing so will grant you an extra life.
-Backup is only a shake away! During each level of Caf? or Arcade Mode you can call in emergency backup up to three times by simply shaking your phone. With a quick shake of your phone a few good ol? boys in a pickup truck will instantly show up and mow down all creatures on the screen (very helpful if being pursued by a pesky bear and no semi is nearby).
Release Date: July 18th 2009
Buy Game: iTunes App Store
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