iPhone Game Review: Furmins for iPhone (Universal Version Also Available)
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Housemarque is a season console game developers that gave us Super Stardust HD and Outland. Furmins for iOS is a fantastic physics puzzler that has entertaining level designs and very fluid high quality graphics. However, if you don't know how the in-app purchase system works in this game, you will not see the end of the game. It's a shame that such an outstanding game that would be worth a higher price if it had included all content but is marred by a disingenuous in-app purchase system.
What do you get when you combine Crazy Machines, iBlast Moki, and Cut The Rope? Well, if you've read this far you probably already know the answer to that. Furmins hooks you right out of the gate with slick and enjoyable gameplay and a frustration-free retry button. Your task here is to nudge the Furmins to a particular goal. To accomplish this, you are given a collection of variously angled boards, trampolines, bumpers, and so on. At the beginning of each level, the Furmins are thankfully frozen, and no timer is counting down. Here is where you methodically place whatever tools you are given in such a way as to bring the little rascals home. Once everything is set, you hit the Play button and watch the fun.
There is no penalty for tinkering and no maximum number of times you can restart each level. What's more, the standard government-issue 3-star scoring system that this game (of course) uses, is based entirely on your ability to collect candy on your way to the exit and not some nebulous, vaguely defined set of parameters (I'm looking at you, Angry Birds). Furmins even incorporates a bit of good old fashioned pinball as you are given real-time control of the bumpers, and your skill with them can absolutely make/break your ability to achieve success.
The level designs are entertaining and challenging, and have a sort of organic feel to them, giving you the freedom to try to devise your own solution rather than guess the one employed by the designers. Currently, Furmins does not support leaderboards or achievements, although you are given the option to share via social media.
Furmins sports some truly excellent graphics. The animation is silky smooth, and everything looks crisp and clear. Additionally, Pinch to zoom is fully supported, which is helpful for fine-tuning your solutions. This is a charming game, and a hefty portion of that charm comes from the cute little Furmins. If you have youngsters who enjoy these types of games, they're going to gobble this one up and do their best to pinch it's little rosy cheeks in the process.
The sound effects are nicely done, and add substantially to the game's personality. The in-game music adds an appropriate amount of manic perkiness, although, I ended up turning it down as I do most perky in-game music.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
So now we get down to it. The chink in the armor of an otherwise excellent game is its poorly-designed in-app purchase system. If you, like me, dive straight in and start playing without first tapping on the softly pulsing "STORE" button, you're going to be seriously irritated. You see, it is not possible to play through all of the content unless you buy stars. You can, however, play through almost all of the content, if you visit the store straightaway and spend 150 stars on the star doubling upgrade. If you play even a few levels prior, however, you're going to fall short of the stars you need to unlock the last set of levels. I acknowledge that IAPs are here to stay, and that many developers/publishers have found ways to appropriately implement them. Unfortunately, Housemarque is not one of them. While it's one thing to offer the option to purchase additional content, it's entirely another to lead your customers to believe that their initial purchase included content, knowing full well that they are going to hit an impenetrable paywall at the very end of the game.
Furmins is a fantastically fun physics puzzler that incorporates the best of the genre to create something truly charming, challenging, and addicting. Unfortunately, the underhanded IAP system left me with a bad taste in my mouth, unable to complete the game.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Beautiful graphics and smooth animation make this game lots of fun. Sound: - 4 - Charming sound effects add to the game's personality. Controls: - 5 - An intuitive interface has you up and playing in seconds. Gameplay: - 3 - Tons of fun; right up until you hit the sneaky paywall.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Before you play a single level, visit the store and purchase the Star Doubling upgrade. If you don't, you'll be sorry... Don't be afraid to experiment and tinker as there is no penalty for restarting and/or taking your time.