Thursday, January 5, 2012

Under My Thumb: Super Crate Box

Just the other day, I posted about how, despite the wonder and convenience and social acceptability of iPhone gaming, the nature of touchscreen controls left me wishing for buttons and/or invisible thumbs.

The very next day, a maddeningly addictive game called Super Crate Box came into my life. I've never wanted buttons so much in my life.

In case you haven’t played, here’s the basic rundown: You assume the role of one of a surprisingly diverse cast of Meat Boy-esque action heroes, and find yourself at the center of a Mario Bros-inspired set of platforms. There is a single crate to collect. Once you get it, another randomly generates somewhere on the screen. Each crate holds a weapon, and each new weapon automatically replaces whatever weapon you had just a moment ago. Add a boatload of enemy creatures who end your game with a single touch, and stir.

After an evening’s worth of crate collecting, I have a whopping high score of 13.

It’s not that the controls aren’t tight—they are. But with a game this challenging, in which every fraction of a second absolutely means life or death, there’s just no substitute for tactile controls. Beyond that, new crates often warp in directly under the dedicated thumb-spots, camouflaging beneath the controller icons even when you’ve moved your digits out of the way. Observe the following screenshot (with a cameo by my actual thumbs):
It’s pretty easy to take a clear limitation like this and say, “If only I could play this with an Xbox controller—I’d be SO MUCH BETTER AT IT1.” So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Am I nitpicking? Absolutely, I am. Priced at $0.99 for iOS, Super Crate Box is an absolute steal. Dig around for change in your couch and go buy it. Don’t think about it. Just do it.

I dare you to try and beat 13 crates.

1 PC and Mac OS versions are actually free and available right here, so if I really wanted to test the truth of this, it would completely be within my power to do so. As it is, I’d prefer to ignore this and let my assertion stand.

Update: New high-score as of Jan 11 is 60 crates. Although, apparently, that's nothing.
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