Game Review: Cookie Rush
Release: November 18, 2010
Available Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch
ESRB Rating: Everyone
I don’t play a lot on my iPhone anymore. Aside fromwhen I’m absolutely bored and nothing else is in reaching distance, I’m strictly a console guy, even with my uber casual games. It takes something hilariously addicting (Plants vs Zombies & Peggle for instance, both of which have homes on my Xbox now) to even get me on my phone for more than a couple of minutes at a time. And while Cookie Rush will definitely never see play sessions longer than fifteen minutes or so; it is the quintessential mobile game. Summed up, it’s really the gaming equivalent of being short, sweet, and to the point. And I’m loving it.
Basically the only interaction you have with the game is tapping the screen to drop little trampolines (you’re limited to only three on the screen at any one time) in front of villagers rushing from a Giant Cookie of Death. It makes no sense, but its charm and quirk comes from that. As the villagers flee, you have to help them avoid pitfalls, hungry animals, tall structures, and the occasional thief that’ll steal the rescue vehicle for himself. And that’s the goal of the game, ensure the survival of a big enough group of townsfolk and they’ll all start yelling for help, and the rescue vehicle will pop up. From there you launch as many as you can into the little crate under the balloon, and get a score for it.
If you can last long enough, you must help the villagers cross oceans, leading to new continents, new obstacles, and a new palette of people to save. Those accustomed to Angry Birds style level selections may be confused here; there is essentially no level selection system to speak of. Every time you lose, no matter how far you got, no matter what score you made, you restart back at the original opening position of the game.
What’s fun and interesting about this is that each time you restart the game it changes slightly. Mostly it’s subtle alterations, like changing ledges and pitfall locations, adding or subtracting villager numbers, or throwing in more animals. But after about my tenth time through, I got criminals hanging from cages I had to save. It made me realize that the game, despite going through the same level over and over, has surprises for the player. The idea of seeing something new, or finally reaching another continent is what has me going back to it an unhealthy number of times. And usually, for a game to get me to come back, I need some kind of leveling system, unlocking new items or whatnot. The fact that there is none of that here at all, and I’m feeling that constant need to see if I can get farther (essentially having the only goal of beating my own score) proves that it doesn’t matter how bare bones a game is, if it’s fun, it’s fun. The lightning quick boot up time also lends perfectly into the idea of wanting it to play immediately when you’re out and have a couple of minutes to kill.
One of the only complaints I have here is how you actually fail the game; I don’t know how I’m losing, frankly. I watched a friend (who had never played it before) play it, lose half his villagers within thirty seconds, and immediately get the game over screen (which is the cookie saying “too fast”, which greatly adds to my confusion). So I assume it’s losing villagers too fast or too often. But I’ve gotten to at least the fourth continent and lost countless of the little guys, but never gotten a game over. I think the case there may have come from another facet of the game I discovered after a while. Basically every time you avoid an animal or any obstacle, it hits the cookie, and seems to damage it. If that’s so, my hyped up video gamer mind makes me think the game can be beaten by dodging every single obstacle to completely destroy the rolling baked monstrosity. All these questions and general confusion didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the game too much, but any game where you lose pretty often, and it’s never clear as to the why, is a definite detriment to the overall experience. However, in favor of Cookie Rush, it definitely becomes a smaller problem the more you play.
Mitchel’s Final Say
Some may wish Cookie Rush had some sort of world system, with numerous levels and/or environments to choose from, but after you play it, the way it’s set up just makes sense. When you want to play it, you don’t want to have to worry about which world to jump into, difficulty levels, or any of that, excuse my French, crap. You just want to instantly begin bouncing little dudes all over the place. Cookie Rush lets you do just that. Then there’s the question everyone immediately thinks of, “Does the level ever end?” I don’t know, and I will definitely never find out, after you’re going for five or ten minutes it gets pretty darn hard. But that mystery of the unknown is what sows the seeds of addiction here. And I can tell you, from the week I’ve had with the game and the sneak sessions under my desk at school and lying in bed at night, the addiction is very prevalent.