Publisher: MOJO Software
Developer: MOJO Software
Compatibility: iOS 3.1 or later
iTunes Rating: 4+
Release date: Available now
Have you ever wished you could dodge descending frowny faces while trying to catch smiley faces and bombs? Grumps is an iOS game developed by MOJO Software that allows you to do just that. Gameplay is simple and graphics are, well, the game has graphics. If you were to decide on purchasing Grumps purely on the iTunes reviews and the provided quotes from “credible” app reviewers, chances are you would pay the 99 cents. But you should put that dollar bill back into your wallet. Let me explain why.
Grumps really has no plot, no story and no point. You are a static graphic of an urban youth who moves horizontally, trying to collect falling smiley faces of different colors. Every once in a while, a black circle with the word “bomb” in the middle falls—catch them if you can. Progression through the various levels is accomplished by reaching score limits. Remember those bombs I told you to collect? Those are used to clear the screen of the Grumps, frowny faces that, if you come in contact with them, deduct a single life point. When you run out of life, your game is over.
Grumps takes advantage of iDevices’ accelerometers and internal gyroscopes. Tilt your device left, and your character moves left, tilt it right and you move right. The Grumps fall at different speeds, so the quickness of your tilting determines how fast your character can dodge them. There will be moments when you find yourself in a Grump checkmate. With nowhere to go, you need a bomb. Once you have collected one, if you tap the screen, all Grumps are eliminated, leaving the smiley faces behind.
Is Grumps worth buying? No. To be fair, it’s not an entirely bad premise for a mobile game. It loads quickly, it’s simple, and it takes minimal concentration to play. However, the game reminds me of something I would have programmed in college when I was learning scripting and programming. The quality of the graphics is poor, and to make things worse, it appears as though the aspect ratio of the main character graphic is off, meaning the characters look squashed and out of proportion. The level backgrounds aren’t quite as bad, but they have no relevance to anything going on and appear to be clip-art images that were purchased, not designed specifically for the app. When recommending a game that must be purchased, I look for the quality of the entire package. Grumps fails to deliver on multiple levels.
On the iTunes page for Grumps, the publisher has listed numerous reviews for the game that praise it for its graphics and gameplay. In no way am I exaggerating when I say this shocked me. I was literally dumbfounded that any website or app reviewer would give this game their approval. I admit that I was apprehensive about how honest to be about this game. I felt bad rating Grumps as I did, but to be fair, I refrained from pulling my punches. If Grumps was free, then it might be worth the time required to install it. After all, you might have kids, and the game could probably keep them quiet for a few minutes while you check your Facebook account. When I visited the developer’s website, however, I had the strange suspicion that Grumps was not developed by someone with a passion for games. It reminds me of one of those online “ad games” in which bright red crosshairs move with your mouse, and as soon as you click (typically in an attempt to kill a monster), you’re taken to some random website that sells online medications. Grumps left me with this “Ha! We have your money now!” feeling.
I am a web developer and designer, so I understand what is required to create professional-level products and software. Grumps could have easily been rated one or two stars higher and been worth the 99 cents had MOJO Software (aka Carl R. Andrews, Inc.) invested more time and money into the graphics. Yes, I get to play iOS games for free, but it’s still upsetting when I am presented with titles that are obviously meant to take advantage of consumers by playing into the hype that surrounds iDevices and the burgeoning mobile app craze. Keep that dollar bill handy, though; there are plenty of other games that won’t leave you with buyer’s remorse.