Having gotten tired of the boring (and sometimes flat-out horrible) game choices of the past few weeks, this week I vowed to pick a game by a developer that I had actually heard of before. Seeing that Granny Smith was developed by the guys that made Sprinkle (Mediocre AB), was good enough for me. Not to mention that the game revolved around a surprisingly limber senior citizen wearing a cape.

Granny Smith is a 2.5D racer which tasks you with chasing down an obviously evil fat kid (he has FANGS for crying out loud) and collecting apples before the ruffian gets his hands on them (more on that in a minute). You speed through levels by leaping and somersaulting over obstacles, and grabbing onto rails/wires to slide you along. Get to the finish, then go on over to the next level. It’s not exactly deep, but it works in its simplicity.

The gameplay is generally as fun as it sounds. I mean, you can’t say seeing an 80 year-old woman doing front flips isn’t entertaining. The environments are actually pretty varied, zoos and cityscapes being just a few. They look and play well, and they remain fun to race through. The simple, two-button controls handle fair, keeping the game simple, and the jazzy soundtrack keeps up with the overall polished feel, without becoming annoying.

So it sounds great, right? “I think I’m going to go buy it right now!” WAIT A SECOND! Don’t press that “purchase” button just yet. You see, although Granny Smith is fun, it’s not quite fun enough for me to be able to look over its big flaw: The lack of challenge.

The flaws in the mental stimulation department come most harshly to light with the apple collectibles. Put simply: there’s zero need to actually collect them. Confused? I was too. I first noticed this about halfway through the game, when I clicked on a new level and finally noticed that there was no “apple requirement” in the level info. Suspicious, I played through the next couple levels and purposely skipped over the apples (which was sometimes actually harder than collecting them), and kept progressing with no problem. It was odd, and I was sure that I would run into a roadblock along the way, and the game would force me to go back and collect some apples I had skipped. Nope. I actually managed to play through the whole second half of the game WITHOUT COLLECTING ANY MORE APPLES.

But if that wasn’t bad enough, the race aspect (which is all that’s left after you stop caring about the “collectible” apples) isn’t challenging either, since you can just “buy-pass” levels with coins the game practically throws at you. And if you want even less of an annoyance, you can just shell out a few coins for power ups (Baseballs and banana peels that slow down the fat kid, or helmets to stop you from collapsing when you land on your head). You might as well have let us buy an “instant win” button, devs.

Even the option to buy coins (NO MORE IN-APP PURCHASES!!!) isn’t really worth it. Like I said, you get a slew of impossible-to-miss coins anyway, and in a few stages, the game just hands you baseballs, which you can keep for later. It makes me wonder who would be impatient enough to buy the stuff with real money.

So there’s really no point to the “collectibles”, and if the game gets too challenging for your disposition (dandelion), you can just skip over levels or shoot through them with your excessive powerups. It’s a shame, since most of the stages are well designed, and have the potential to be fun if you actually play them.

In Conclusion

So how did I like “them apples”? (I’ve been waiting all week to use that joke.) Well, Granny Smith manages to do enough right to escape the “bad game dumpster”…BUT, it’s not a game I would recommend.

It tries so hard to be a “casual” game that it ends up becoming too relaxed. It has no real sense of challenge or accomplishment, which should still be present even in a casual game. It has fun moments and quite a bit of potential, but forgoes that in favor of releasing a game without a solid direction. You could do so much worse than playing Granny Smith, but you could also do so much better.