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.
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.
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.
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.