Itsy bitsy controls meets static platformer meets Dr. Strangelove. I’m sure that the finer details are being swept aside in favour of a cleverly pithy lead-in but, tosh, who cares. Alice in Bomberland (AiB) really is all those things, and for fans of literature and comic gaming, there is probably no weirder, better choice. Well, almost….
However, AiB’s literary legacy, Alice in Wonderland, which fairly peaks around the corners, reminding gamers of its existence between each level, serves as the vital backbone for this game. Its vestiges are seen in items which Alice must grab, and others which she must avoid; and in between levels, Lewis Carroll peaks out with humorous nonsense.
Well, Alice in Bomberland and its inspiration are nonsense. Her world (and indeed Alice herself) is strapped by dynamite, missiles, and explosions aplenty; and apart form a few bits of falling furniture, not much else resides there. Your job is to guide her safely through such harsh environs to collect pieces of paper, smiles, vials, etc.. It isn’t easy – and this point in particular catches many people up.
Controls in particular are rubbish – I have to lay it down this way. Otherwise, nonsensically fun, Alice fails because of a minus of forethought. Firstly, the common d-pad layout is split into two parts: up/down, and left/right; and flung to opposite sides of the screen. Button layout be damned, any half-brained person can adapt their noodles to a non-standard layout; what makes Alice so frustratingly impossible is the tiny, tiny control buttons which are designed for three-inch tall caterpillar paws. Unless you are picking at the buttons with a special adapter, any normal sized thumb will fully cover both sets of buttons at the same time. Forget, dodging anything – you will hardly be able to navigate vertically across the screen without keeping an eye on the controls and away from the game.
Aside from that huge issue, however, the AiB is mostly a delight. There are two basic modes with several tweaks each. The first (and most frustrating) is the rabbit hole where a forever-falling Alice must dodge dynamite in order to grab pages of a manuscript. Here’s a hint: stay at the bottom to preserve your life, moving up only to grab the needed bits till you rack up enough points to pass the level. The other mode has Alice on the ground jumping and triple jumping to dodge missiles, bombs, bundles of dynamite, and cake – yes, cake. She can also augment her own body’s physics by consuming items which appear randomly, and as the game progresses, more frequently. Drugs: I think there is a reference to drugs in the game, yes I do. But by and large, your aim is to gather a quota of points and then survive a few seconds afterward as the level winds down.
There are some delightful graphics in the game – cute drawings, and at times, good special effects, but they are pasted hastily into a too-typical interface. The game is glued by Web 0.05-esque radio buttons, splash screens and menu system. If you can leapfrog that transom, AiB is speckled with interesting drawings from Lewis Carroll’s work, and if you ‘get it’, loads of jokes. Indeed, AiB is funny where it counts, but its humour, like the book, is quizzical. Assuming the controls can be overhauled, Alice will be a realistic game, but it will face new problems. It is a short game with little no no incentive for re-play. With a new control scheme, this fact will only be more evident.
If you like bombastic literature and bombs, Alice in Bomberland may be just the right recipe for you – if you choose to follow it. It is funny, cute and like an untrained pet, frustrating and messy. Sonic BOOM! need to get their act together; the controls are horrible and the menu and interface, dated; if they can fix those bits as well as lower the price, they will have a realistic game. For now, like Red Rage, it is merely a hint at something worthwhile, but not nearly worth it in the end.
|Title:||Alice in Bomberland (v 1.0.0)||Developer:||Sonic BOOM Inc.|
|Price:||$1.99||App Size:||9.7 MB|