iPhone Game Review: Arachnadoodle
Reviewed by Mike 'Todwurst' Wagner
When we hear 'doodle' in the name of an App Store game it conjures up images of stick men and games with one infinitely long level. But that's not always the case. Connect2Media's Arachnadoodle is a 32 level puzzle extravaganza for the casual gamer in your home. And for a mere 99 cents and hours of your relaxation time, it can be yours.
First you take Peggle, and you make the setting a house. Then you slip on over to Bryce Manor and catch yourself a spider. You perform strange experiments on him until he becomes a strange little goggle eyed creature and you have the beginnings of Arachnadoodle.
"That's derivative!" some of you will cry. And of course, you will be right. But that's how the world works. And when we derive something from those things which have come before it, sometimes we find that the end result is well worth it.
Arachnadoodle is fun. It can be easy. It can be frustratingly hard - especially if you're playing with the obsession of a golf pro. With the pegs and scoring elements from Peggle, and the control and protagonist of Spider you end up with a blend that is easy to jump into and play at will.
"But I've never played either game!" the rest of you will declare, and that's okay, but you really should. In the meantime I'll just catch you up on the gameplay.
As Boris the spider you enjoy the succulent internal fluids of flies. In order to catch these flies you must build an effective web. Boris hasn't spent much time watching Richard Dawkins experiment with spider web design, so he has come to rely on you to help him build his web. You must fling Boris across the screen attaching your webbing to various configurations of pins, collecting bonuses along the way. You have a limited amount of webbing, and must connect each of the pins to at least one other pin to complete the level. The more connections between each pin, the greater the effectiveness of the web and the more flies you catch.
The game starts out very easy, but gets progressively harder with the addition of exploding and zapping bugs which impede your progress, and furniture which you stick to. As you become familiar with the game, it's easy to tell when a bad move will lead to a Game Over from an incomplete web and you'll want to start the level over. For some reason this requires multiple steps to exit the game and then select the level again. It should be a matter of pausing and restarting, but this is one of only a few minor gripes I had with the game.
Bonuses are applied for various reasons, and you can get some by playing very carefully, but there are others that you can get by playing more aggressively. It's up to you to figure out the balance you'll need to achieve to get the highest scores.
Once you've used up all your webbing or linked all the pins your web is put to the test by a swarm of flies. This is cute the first time, but since you can't skip it you'll quickly find that after seeing it for the 100th time the initial cuteness of the flies springing free has lost it's appeal.
As much as I enjoy The Ride of the Valkyries and the smell of napalm in the morning, hearing it play back in the menus repeatedly and then at the end of every level is enough to make me want to stick pencils into my ears. Or at least into the ears of the developers. But wait! They've included the ability to play your own music! So I go into the menus, select 'Carbon Monoxide' by Cake and go back to playing with oxygen-deprived glee.
The sound effects go nicely with the cartoon theme, and the gentle background music reminds me of Viva Pinata for some reason (though VP has orchestral music, so I don't know why that memory triggers). The little farting noises of each successfully deployed thread will bring joy to children young and old, and the victory cheer given out by Boris at the completion of each level is low-calorie sweetness.
Arachnadoodle is well worth the price, with 32 levels to master and a cute little protagonist that you can fling around as lovingly or sadistically as you please. It just needs a couple of tweaks to speed up the flow between levels or restarts. The gameplay itself is addictive and fun.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4.5 - Cute, and halfway between doodles and cartoon. Who wouldn't want to be a googly eyed spider.
Sound: - 4 - Repetitive music, but good sound FX. Roll your own playlist from your library!
Controls: - 5 - Simple and easy to learn. Mastery will take more work.
Gameplay: - 4.5 - Straightforward gameplay, challenging, and a variety of score bonuses will draw fans of the genre back again and again.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- Sometimes it's worth sacrificing your spider on the first shot.
- Plan your shots at least 2 in advance, and use bumpers extensively when available.
Release Date: December 17, 2009 (update)
Buy App: iTunes App Store
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