By Eric Pankoke on Tue, 11/22/2011
Would you believe me if I told you Corpse Granny was another physics-based puzzle game? Of course you would, because it’s been at least a couple of days since I’ve reviewed one of those. This game does well what any physics based game should do – it lets the player manipulate objects to drop on, bounce into or otherwise dispose of various targets. In this case those targets are zombies, which is just a nice bonus. There are some great ideas in this game, but the pacing is a bit off and the introduction of new items is somewhat haphazard. It hasn’t grabbed me quite as well as some other puzzle games, which is a shame because there is lots of potential.
Your job is to handle a zombie infestation, and you’ll do so by dropping fireballs, cannonballs, barrels and whatever else you have at your disposal onto the attacking undead. There are several ways to get the ball rolling, so to speak, though most items can’t be manipulated directly. Slicing ropes releases some objects into play, while others can be bounced around using springs. Air cannons, cranks and other tools help you get the job done as well. As with any other game of this type, the key to using all of these items effectively is timing – and a bit of luck, since things don’t always bounce the same way twice.
While things like bicycle tires and empty crates are amazingly powerful against zombies, your weapon of choice is the fireball. There are 4 types of fireballs all told, but with the exception of the orange one they only seem to make cameo appearances. That’s a bit of a shame, because the nature of the different fireballs helps add variety to the level layouts and actual puzzle possibilities. The same can be said about the zombies. There are different kinds, but the primary ones basically all do the same thing – stand around. There is a granny zombie that wanders to and fro and tries to avoid your attacks, and a menacing zombie on the last level of each world will actually shoot your projectiles away from them, but otherwise there is no meaningful difference between any of the undead.
As for the levels, there are some pretty snazzy ones tucked away in the three worlds that comprise Corpse Granny. There’s actually one where you take the zombie to the fireball, and even one that’s designed like a pinball machine. The problem is that for every really cool level there are several that feel pretty run of the mill. Additionally, the design of many of the levels is not conducive to the small iPod Touch screen where it’s pretty easy to slice the wrong rope at the wrong time or “miss” the tap of an air cannon or spring because you don’t hit them just right. The cranks are especially difficult to manipulate, as it seems for every turn in the right direction it turns back in the other direction. The one thing that does work consistently is swiping to take care of ropes, taking into account my criticism above.
There are a couple of other issues I should mention. I don’t know if these are culprits of iOS 5 or the game itself, but they are kind of annoying. The game has a tendency to crash after a few levels, though the number varies each time. This is especially an issue when it doesn’t save the progress on a level I just beat after many failed attempts. I also can’t seem to log into OpenFeint or Game Center, even though I know I’m connected to the internet and other applications have no problems with those services. Oh, and stop asking me if I want to buy bombs after every few failed attempts on a given level. That’s not an iOS 5 thing, that’s just something that bugs me.
The aesthetics are where Corpse Granny shines. The backgrounds are nicely detailed, and while the foreground elements tend to be a bit tiny they are also well rendered. More importantly, everything is nicely animated. I love watching as a brain pops out of a zombie’s head, or a hambone appears when one of the larger undead gets fried by a fireball. The sound effects do a nice job of complimenting the action. Nothing seems frivolous, and nothing is repeated often enough to get annoying. It would be nice to hear a grunt or groan from the zombies occasionally, but that’s a minor thing. Each world has its own theme, which is pretty cool, and it’s all actually decent music.
In the end Corpse Granny is a physics puzzle game with some decent concepts that suffers from a somewhat flawed execution. When timing is key your controls have to be smooth and super responsive, which these are not. If you introduce a cool new contraption, use it in more than one or two levels. Make unique, inspired levels the norm, not the exception. And if you’re going to offer social network support, make sure it works. This isn’t a bad game, but it seems like it could have used a bit more quality assurance before ending up in the hands of its end users.
Overall Score: 6/10
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