Angry Caveman review (iPod/iPhone)

March 6, 2011

“Caveman, fourth floor; Caveman, last door”

Angry, huh? Must be a bird ... nope, it's a caveman.

10 word description: Stranded in maze of rocks, caveman push rocks, find exit.
10 word review: Game Salad bad. Collision detection aberrant. Enjoyment missing. Angry player.

For the love of God, Noooooooo!!!!!!1

You will like this if you enjoy: Beta testing Game Salad games.

See the rock by his foot? He's stuck against that. He can't move forwards.

The good news: It’s not completely beyond help. An acceptable gaming experience is in there somewhere.

See the block to his right. Stuck to it. Can't move.

The bad news: Where to start? Appalling movement and collision detection. Lack of an undo function. Resounding significance of the overbearing use of the colour brown. Unreliable D-Pad. Horrendous linking “lost life” to restarting a level, given how broken the movement and collision detection is. Losing all 3 lives resets the game and you lose ALL PROGRESS and every completed level apart from level 1 is locked again. Frustration caused by incredibly bad movement and collision detection causing levels to become unplayable. There are 13 levels, but level 5 is so broken that you will probably never complete it.

The nightmare that is "level 5". He's stuck. Again. So is the block immediately below him.

Arcadelife verdict: First of all, it IS possible to make half-way decent games with Game Salad. See Puzzle Dozer, Running Wild and Cart Cow for proof of this. Ok, they’re not phenomenally brilliant games but they are enjoyable, playable games. The trouble with software that allows people to easily create games is that it allows people to easily create bad games. And then flood the app store with their bumbling, untested efforts purely because it feels good to have “released a game”. Trust me, I’ve churned out some atrocious garbage on the PC via GameMaker but at least I’ve had the common decency to either hide the results away in a dark place or make them available for free as a joke.

Level 5 again. Now the stone wheel is stuck. You can't move it. There's no "undo" function. You have to restart the level.

Angry Caveman has appalling object movement and collision detection. In a grid-based game, the playable character and movable objects should “snap to grid” when they move. In this game, the objects move a random amount and come to rest somewhere, not necessarily where you think they would, or where you want them to. Often, they stick to nearby objects and don’t move at all. That is not good. It makes the game borderline unplayable. It causes objects to jam against each other, remaining immovable and forcing the player to restart the level, losing a life, only for the same thing to happen again, with either the same object or a different one. Level 5 is a big sticking point (pun intended) because the layout of the central puzzle invites this to happen repeatedly until you just quit because that’s the only sane option.

Only the terminally insane will try to make it any further than this.

The movement/collision issue is not my opinion, it is a fact. It renders the game frustrating and annoying. It spectacularly lets down the promise of the menu artwork and the tolerable in-game graphics. It needs to be fixed. It is also unthinkable that a choice was made by the designer to reset all progress when 3 lives are lost. That’s not harsh or challenging, it’s just stupid. I probably spent more time spell-checking this review than anyone spent play-testing this game.

If you look back through earlier reviews on Arcadelife, I gave Cave Runner 3D a bad review because the character movement was just plain awful. It ruined the game. An update was issued that fixed the character movement, citing my description of the character’s movement (“bowling ball”) as one of the things they had fixed. I applauded this and posted a news item announcing the update and how much better the game now is because of it. I am genuinely pleased that they fixed the game and that I played some small part in its improvement.

Fix the movement and collision detection in Angry Caveman. Remove the way that losing your lives resets all game progress. I will play it again, I promise, and I will post a news item about the update if the game has improved. I’ll even come back to this review and update it to say how much better the game is. There you go, there’s your opportunity to make the game better and get some free publicity for doing so. If you leave it as it is, you will just collect a couple of 1 star app reviews from angry players and it will be forgotten in the mass of half-finished Game Salad releases that litter the app store.

Game Salad developers everywhere, take heed – GS makes it easier to develop games. Spend your time making games that actually work. Please!   

iTunes link for Angry Caveman

Angry Caveman website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on 3rd gen and 4th gen iPod Touch, both running OS 4.2.1.

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