At the risk of damaging any sort of casual camaraderie I may have with the good people at AppAddict, I’m going to spend a moment on the subject of addiction. Well, not so much the subject, but certainly the word itself.
For starters, I looked up the definition of ‘addiction’ on Wikipedia: “Addiction is the continued use of a mood altering substance or behaviour despite adverse dependency consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviours.” Then it went on to discuss hallmarks, patterns, physiological dependence, and a collection of other depressing things that made me so sad that I had to play a game to superficially alleviate my sorrow while avoiding the responsibility of dealing with it head on.
The thing is, last month in the throes of my Hex-fest, I came across HexAddict, which I don’t believe I found addictive. It was fine enough, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t like I got cold sweats within two days of deleting it.
I know I know, calm down. I know it’s just a name, but let’s face it: how many products out there that are addictive shove the word ‘addictive’ straight into the title? Imagine if the ad wizards over at Big Tobacco decided to rebrand cigarettes as Addict-A-Sticks? Or, better yet, what if we took all the alcohol, tobacco and pornography out of corner shops, shoved them all inside a big casino and calling the whole place Addict-O-Mart! Lowest employee turnover rate ever.
This month, I trolled the back alleys of the App Store in a pimped-out hatchback and scored this crumpled little dime-bag of illicit goods: Addictive Bubbles! Addicting Balls! Addictive Blood! Numbers Addict, Milk Addict, Farkle Addict! And finally, Addicting, Addictinator, and Addiction. Holy Whizbang, I’m surprised I can still string a sentence together.
Addictive Bubbles: Bubbles show up on screen. Pop them with your finger. Design-wise it’s a bit of an eye-gouger, but who doesn’t like popping bubbles?
Addiction level: short-term gratification with no lingering after effects.
Addicting Balls: The opposite of Addictive Bubbles – this time you’re blowing the bubbles with your finger, and if they pop you lose. Design-wise, much less of an eye-gouger, with a fair bit more vector-wood if that’s your thing, and still not the best use of fonts.
Addiction level: tolerance, lack of motivation.
Addictive Blood: I’m having trouble working out where to start on this one. First off, it’s a sniper game. The crosshairs are controlled by the accelerometer, which I suppose is okay since sniping requires a steady hand. However, the targets don’t surprise you with when and where they pop up; they all walk across the middle of the screen, so all you have to do is stand there with the crosshairs in the middle and wait for them to come to you.
Secondly, each target is carrying a bomb. If you shoot someone, he drops the bomb, and a second later that bomb kills everything on screen. You can effectively shoot one guy, then watch the chain of explosions happen over several seconds while you eat a sandwich and send an email.
Thirdly, there is a store. In this store you can buy things like infinite bullets, extra time, multipliers, etc. If you wish to make an in-app purchase of 20,000 Golds for 99 cents (or a bargain 500,000 Golds for $9.99), I suppose you’re welcome to… but to buy out the ENTIRE STORE costs no more than 600 Golds. I’ve already said far more about this game than I intended to, but some things you just can’t let slide.
Addiction level: headaches, denial.
I need to take a short break here to talk about ‘addictive’ vs. ‘addicting’. Now, I, like many, had my doubts about whether ‘addicting’ was proper grammar, or a real word at all. My research tells me that it’s a hazy one. See, ‘addictive’ is an adjective – ‘This app is addictive” – but ‘addicting’ is a transitive verb – “This app is addicting teenagers across the world.” For something to be labeled ‘addicting’, it must be actively causing addiction in another noun.
I thought I’d make special mention of this, since I’m starting to think I won’t be able to use either of those sentences in direct relation to any of the apps in my list.
Numbers Addict: This one wasn’t too shabby. Balls, grids, numbers, touch the top and you’ll die… standard fare of your average drop-drop puzzle game. Also standard fare: the challenge in the first thirty seconds or so is working out how exactly you make the balls vanish so that you can go on playing. The answer comes with simple addition.
If two 2-balls touch, they vanish. If three 3-balls touch, they vanish. If four 4-balls touch… you see where I’m coming from. But what do you do with the 1-balls? Ah, you work that out and you’ve got it. Balls can add up. If you slide a 1-ball into a neighbouring 2-ball, they combine to form a 3-ball. If that’s touching two other 3-balls, they all vanish. Any ball can combine with any other so long as it doesn’t exceed the highest number on the board.
Addictive? Meh. Out of what you’ve seen so far, it’s the only one I’ve come back to for entertainment when I’ve got a spare few minutes, so that’s got to mean something.
Addiction level: If Zynga’s Drop-7 were cocaine, Numbers Addict would be its crack.
Milk Addict: To be fair to this one, I don’t think the makers of this game intended to suggest that the player was addicted to milk, nor would be by the end of the game.
The alien in the game is the Milk Addict. He’s here to take the cows back to his home planet, all of whom are presumably dying from bone loss and osteoporosis (I’m just guessing at motives here; it doesn’t say anything about that in the intro). There’s some decent production values here, with environments and characters rendered out in I believe what’s referred to as two-and-a-half-D (that’s a 3D game, but it plays like a 2D game). At its core it’s the old leaky pipes game – get the water (milk) from point A (cow) to point B (saucer) – but in this game you can’t have any open-ended pipes. Everything’s got to close off by looping back around on itself or against a wall. AND the pipes have to be laid in order, from the saucer to the cow. With the pipe delivery being random, I haven’t yet worked out if this makes it challenging or just annoying. All in all, it’s not bad, but neither is it awesome.
Addiction level: suitable for designated drivers.
Farkle Addict: I… I think I may have become a Farkle Addict. The first step is admitting it.
Farkle is a dice game (one that can be played with analog dice as well as digital ones). I first dabbled in Farkle at summer camp when I was a kid, and I think a small bit of Farkle addiction lodged itself in a forgotten corner of my pleasure centres until being reawakened by this app. And now, the hunger is back!
As games go, Farkle Addict is a bit like Microsoft Solitaire. It’s fun, easy, quick to learn, and so much more enjoyable when the computer does all the layout, assembly and counting for you. Give it a shot, see what you think. Farkle is the new Yahtzee! (Land sakes alive, I think that’s the uncoolest thing I’ve ever said).
Addiction Level: cravings, preoccupation, physiological dependence
Addiction: This one is also fun! You know why? Because it’s Dr. Mario.
Anyone remember Dr. Mario? Eradicate the cute viruses with cute pharmaceuticals, Tetris-style. I used to love it. I’m not exactly sure why Mario was attached to it, other than because, like Moshi Monsters and marshmallows, if you slap Mario on something the kids will buy it. Perhaps that’s reason enough.
Anyway, Addiction is that, with an old-school private-eye alien-abduction comic-book story wrapped around it. I only got the lite version, so I don’t know what happens to Betty in the end. Save her, Max!
Addiction level: good, clean, pill-popping fun.
Addicting: It’s like the opposite of Doodle Jump. Instead of a… um… Snork jumping up platforms, it’s a shiny ball falling through gaps in platforms. It’s not bad – I mean, it’s shiny and polished, and though the physics engine is a mite sensitive it works smoothly enough – but it’s far from what the title says it is.
Addiction level: If Doodle Jump were cocaine, Addicting would be white flour.
And finally, Addictinator: Just… don’t.
Addiction level: apathy, nausea, suicide.
Final note to developers out there, since we’re on the subject of words… ‘Addictive’ and ‘repetitive’? Not the same. ‘Addicting’ and ‘annoying’. Also not the same?
And there’s a big difference between ‘addict’ and ‘someone who is still playing because he told himself that he would complete an entire game before passing judgment for his article, but the game holds very little challenge and death comes slowly.’ Just saying.
Until next month, this is Kevin Beimers, reporting for AppAnnoy. Damn, I knew I’d get that wrong.