I decided to take a break from the more high-profile titles I have been reviewing lately and try something that I hadn’t heard about before. Digging around the lists of games that have released in the last couple months, I stumbled upon the curiously named “Badass Free” and decided to take the plunge and try it out.
As you probably have guessed, the app is free to download, however the actual game is more akin to Nintendo’s WarioWare series than any kind of actual badassery simulation.
The actual title of the game, as featured in-game is “Bad ass” but the app store and app icon both say “Badass Free” This may be me nitpicking, but it really reminds me of the now-uncommon practice of releasing two versions of an app. one “Lite/Free” and another paid full version of the same app. Once In-App Purchases were allowed a while ago, it dramatically reduced the need to download a new app. Of course now we get games that are “Free” but not really “Free” at all. Badass toes the “Free” line but makes no bones about the fact it wants your money.
Naming complaints aside, Badass begins with the “Cavity” level unlocked, which contains 15 microgames that are each played within 5 seconds and in rapid-fire succession. The microgames range from copying an ATM PIN pattern or milking cows to unscrewing some nuts off a bolt. The games don’t come with more than one or two word instructions, and you will certainly fail a number of times on the less obvious challenges. All the games are done by tapping, dragging and multi-touching, so for example when the game tells you to poke the balloons, you simply tap on the balloons until they disappear. Others, when they tell you to “touch the shark’s throat” or similar, really mean “Slide the on-screen hand to touch the shark’s throat” but using the word “Touch” immediately brings most users to “tap with my physical finger.” Again, after a few frustrating failures you will understand most of what the game wants you to do.
By beating each microgame you gain a couple coins based on the stage you are currently playing. So if you are on stages 1 through 5 which are the “normal speed” stages, you get 1 coin per microgame completed. After this, every 5 levels the game informs you it is “Speeding up” and the games get a little more difficult as well as giving you an extra coin per stage. By stage 22, I was getting 5 coins per minigame but even that 5 per microgame is far from a satisfying pace that can’t be sustained due to glitches within the games themselves. (more on that shortly.) There are Boss Battles every 10 levels, which are longer microgames involving various other unusual tasks, like lifting girls’ skirts or cutting toys in half. You don’t get any big bonus coins or anything from the Boss Battles, but the random stages continue on until you fail.
Failing is something you will be doing quite often, and sometimes it will feel like it wasn’t your fault. That’’s because it wasn’t. The calibration seems to be off on a few minigames, most notably “Ants Invasion”, “Nail Polish”, and “Knife Fingers”, three games that all require pretty accurate precision. Badass doesn’t always register your location properly, which can quickly cost you the game, leading to further frustration in your coin gathering efforts.
So let’s talk about coins. Coins are the obsession of a certain chubby italian plumber you all know, as well as about six trillion other mascots and seem to be the go-to currency in freemium games. Badass gives you a few coins for playing each microgame and occasionally a few more when you get lucky on the bonus wheel, but never enough to make you feel that need to play “just a couple more games.” To unlock a new batch of stages, you need to spend 2000 coins, which seems to take a lot longer than it really should. Of course you can buy coins with real money, and you can discover a few secret spots that will give you about 50 or so coins here and there.
Besides new levels, you can also spend your coins to upgrade your skills, which in turn help you get farther in the levels, and eventually earn more coins. There is an option to pay $2.99 for a package that contains 2500 coins, removes ads and doubles any coins you get in the microgames. Normally this would seem like a no-brainer, except even getting 10 coins at a time per microgame seems like a pittance compared to the pricing of the unlockables. That’s 50 microgames to unlock a bonus, or 200 to unlock a new batch of stages. Considering each batch contains 15 stages, playing them 200 times really doesn’t sound like much fun, even with the more difficult variations.
Aside from the normal Arcade mode, there is a Challenge mode where you can keep playing the same level over and over as it gets faster. This was also an option in WarioWare, so it is no surprise to see it here.
Here is the big thing about the game. WarioWare’s gameplay pace was frantic and exciting, Badass starts off at such a banal pace that it feels like a chore to get to the faster and more challenging stage variations.
I would gladly pay a few dollars to unlock everything and just play for the fun of it, but considering it would cost me at minimum $8 USD to unlock all the levels, I just don’t think I will have that much fun in re-playing the levels over and over.
The fact the game is free means it is worth a try. The visuals and game style is a change of pace for the app store, and if you were a fan of WarioWare, Badass will really make you want to dig out your GBA or Nintendo DS. It doesn’t quite scratch that itch though, which becomes irritating more than addicting.
I may keep it on my device for a while to see if there are any updates or new levels added over time, but I don’t plan on spending much on the game, which is sad. The concept has promise, but Badass just doesn’t deliver the level of manic insanity I hoped to find.