Flip Frenzy

A puzzle game with an original concept, but what about those in-app purchases?

We've seen plenty of games that just build off of other proven puzzle concepts, but they often end up being lackluster because you feel they could have been more original. Flip Frenzy is a breath of fresh air -- a nicely original game for Android devices that's challenging as well. On top of quality game mechanics, developer Funky Squid Games has put together fun and light hearted graphics and sounds to go along with it.

Like so many games today though, you don't get far in the game before the in-app purchases set in. Are the pay-to-play mechanics enough to turn you away from an otherwise enjoyable title? Read along with us after the break and see how it all breaks down.

Flip Frenzy

The basic game mechanic of Flip Frenzy is to help the yellow ball along a red track, which at the start of each level is separated into segments. To pass the level, you have to let the ball make it along every piece of the track by moving segments into position. Instead of moving them with a swipe in the direction you want -- like your instinct would lead you to think -- you can only move each with a tap. Because in any case there's only one open spot on the board, the square you tap will always slide into the open spot. You can move any of the tiles at any time, even when the ball is on the tile.

As we said, the concept is simple to get but can quickly turn into a brain-bending challenge. Once you start getting levels with immovable tiles, it really throws a wrench into things.  Because you can only move one tile at a time, you end up spending several retries just trying to understand how you would ever move them into the right positions, regardless of the fact that the ball is rolling quite quickly. There's an interesting scheme at play here that lets you pause each level for up to 10 seconds with full visibility of the board -- enough to have a chance at passing the level without a crazy amount of attempts.

Flip Frenzy

Speaking of attempts, this is where those in-app purchases come into play. Flip Frenzy is free to play, and although it isn't pointed out at the start of the game you will only get 10 "retries" before you'll have to restart the game back at level 1 or make an in-app purchase for more retries. 25 retries can be purchased for just $0.99, which of course can let you get a bit farther in the game with the extra attempts. Each time you "reset" the game from the main menu, your retry counter is (supposed to) reset back to the original amount to give another run at the game.

We're not entirely sure if it's a broken or intended mechanic, but after making the $0.99 purchase to bump up our retries to 25, the retry counter went to 0 and never went up or down. No matter how many times we retried a level or reset the game, it just sat on 0, giving us unlimited retries. We have to think that we encountered a bug here.

Flip Frenzy

Now whatever your stance on the in-app purchase system is, Flip Frenzy certainly has a lot going for it. We always think its worth highlighting an original game with good artwork and sounds to back it up. We think the game could be notably improved with a different model that gave you unlimited tries, with the in-app purchase then set to unlock new levels. (But there's probably a reason why we're not game designers). Regardless, the developers have a winner on their hands with Flip Frenzy, and it makes us hopeful for other titles coming from this talented group.

 
There are 6 comments

crxssi says:

>"Are the pay-to-play mechanics enough to turn you away from an otherwise enjoyable title?"

Yes. They are usually (but not always) a rip-off. Make a free version and a pay version, or just free or just pay, but this in-app payment stuff is crazy. Further, I think Google should require apps that require in-app purchase for full functionality be marked as such.

Perfect example is Candy Crush. What would be a fantastic game is ruined by in-app purchase stuff and Facebook junk. That is a game I would gladly pay a few dollars for to "buy" a full version. Instead, they want to string people along. I guess it works for them, but I know I am not alone in hating that model.

Pervbear says:

Unique looks fairly close to Pipedream.... Unless the pay to play levels is the unique aspect if so... Award winner

jedi105 says:

In app purchases to me are a mixed bag. Sometimes, it is clear the developer is simply trying to make a little money and there is nothing wrong with that. Appropriately timed purchases can enhance the game espacially if you've hit a tough spot. But this one sounds nasty. You get 10 tries before you have to start the game over. That is nonsense, and as such, resulted in an instant removal from my phone. And dont get me started on Facebook intergration or log in requirements. If a game has anything like that, it is instantly removed. Air push is another thing that will result in instant removal and low ratings.

Now, on the other side of the coin, to all you developers out there. I'll say one thing. Make an app worthy of the price tag and you will get the sales. 2 to 5 bucks is perfectly acceptable and I have gladly paid that many times to remove ads or get the full game.

I'll never pay an in app purchase for any game, if that's what I'd have to do I'll never use their app. That's how I vote, with my wallet.

Tim Buchalka says:

Hi Andrew,

Thanks very much for the review of this game, I am the co-owner of Funky Squid Games, the people who developed the game and as a struggling indie developer with a small group of developers and artists, anyone taking the time to review one of our games gets my sincere thanks.

It's incredibly hard to get noticed out there.

Let me discuss this retry feature first. Firstly levels 1-6 do NOT consume a retry. I can see by looking at the screenshots that you successfully purchased retries because the count is showing at 13, and in another screenshot they are zero.

Is it possible you used all 25 up? Remember levels 1-6 will let you retry without consuming a retry. We did this so that people learning to play would not get disadvantaged.

We will look carefully into the code to check for a bug. Any information you could tell us would be appreciated.

We have a new version coming out in the new few weeks with an additional 65 free levels and if we find a bug will most certainly fix it.

Regarding IAP's let me start by saying it's tough out there for developers, particularly new ones like us.

Firstly, Flip Frenzy was about 8 weeks full time work for a developer and artist and part time game designer/project manager (me). We have paid the salary of the artist and programmer and obviously my time is worth something. This includes us getting it to work on android and IOS and various app stores.

What we wanted to do is put the game into as many hands as possible, so we figured a free game would make sense and allow those people who wanted to support us to do so with IAP's.

The two IAP's in the game (one for ad removal, the other to buy additional retries) are not essential - you can fully play the game without spending a cent (granted it will be a challenge to complete!).

So it's a little crushing to hear people say they will not spend a cent on a game with an IAP. We have given you a fully functional (and hopefully fun) game for free and you are not willing to spend a cent on it?

The reality we found with Syncroz (our first game, also on IOS and Android) is that it has made almost no money for us on Android (it's free to download, and also has IAP's).

Question to people - would you have paid $1 or $2 for this game if we had of removed ads from the game and removed IAP's?

I absolutely love making games and to be honest it was my lifelong dream to be a game developer (I am 48), but after pouring my heart and soul into our first two games (and next two - Astro Assault comes out on the 28th of this month to all platforms) am now seriously wondering what to do.

If we fail to get people that interested in playing or even downloading a free game, I have serious doubts more people will pay to play it. How will a paid game go viral it people wont even download a free one?

Am I right? I can tell you this, if I knew thats what people wanted and more to the point we could get a reasonable return for the efforts we have put into creating these games, we would remove IAP's altogether and go for the paid option.

Also regarding some of the comments above - I think people are mis-understanding retries.

You are still able to play the game after using the 10 retries, but you just have to start the game from the beginning. It's called a challenge :)

Regarding Facebook/twitter integration - this was optional and not required to login. But tell me, how would you have us spread the word about the game? Is this really a problem for you to be able to login and spread the word about our game optionally if you decide to? Is that truly worthy of deleting off your phone?

Comments like this make me wonder what I have to do to get you to like a game. Honestly I feel people quite happily spent much more money on a cup of coffee than they do an app, and are quite prepared to rate a game harshly for what I think are not big issues.

We are talking about $1 to remove ads and $1 for some retries. Less than the price of a coffee.

Sure some companies abuse the IAP's and Air push (we do not have push technology in this game) but what about developers like us trying to do the right thing and shock horror maybe recoup a few bucks on what is a considerable investment of time and resources.

All I want to do is create great games that people love and be paid enough to pay my staff and myself.

Is that truly to much to ask for?

I am totally open to discuss this. I truly want to find a way to keep everyone happy - myself, my team and of course most importantly the players.

Tell me what I have to do to achieve that?

I'll get off my soap box now. Thanks again for reviewing it, much appreciated and to all the people who downloaded it, I say thanks very much for doing so as well.

Tim Buchalka says:

Hi again,

Tim Buchalka here again. Just wanted to let everyone know we took all the feedback into account and have added a new version of Flip Frenzy to the Google play store (v1.02).

We've added swipe functionality (you can swipe or tap to move blocks). We have totally removed the in app purchase for retries, and made the game have unlimited retries.

Added some music to the game, and last but not least added an extra 65 levels for those who get through the initial challenge. I'd love to hear peoples thoughts on the new version.

Thanks again to everyone for their suggestions. I'd like to think flip frenzy is now a better game because you took the time to voice your opinions.