Publisher: Justin Smith
Developer: Justin Smith
MSRP: $0.99 iTunes Store
Whenever I pick up my iPhone in an attempt to “game”, I feel like some sort of brave pioneer. Sometimes, as I slide my finger across the sleek screen, I envision my hand instead clutching a machete that I use to pare back the thick overgrowth. It’s in these moments that I ask myself, “Am I actually having fun?” In the same token, do explorers in the depths of the jungle have fun? Likely not, but perhaps behind all that pre-macheted foliage is some treasure, or the Lost City of Zinj, or a pack of murderous Congolese gorillas. In any case, strap on your pith helmet, grab something hackable, and follow me through the break.
Phew, we made it, but where are we? We seem to be outside of a large cave. A small river runs past some berry bushes. A bear is driving past us in a red sedan. Winter must be in 5 minutes.
Trying to compare this to any other game has left me sitting here, mouth agape. You are a bear, driving a car (poorly), collecting and eating as much as you can, and getting back to your cave within an allotted time. Sounds easy right? We’ll see about that. It starts with the screen above, and that’s it. Go! Get fish and berries! How? Not by asking all these questions, that’s for sure. My first several attempts at the game consisted of me trying to figure out how to drive. The view of the game is as follows:
As you slide your finger across the screen, the bears arm will follow and grab whatever you stop on. This might be the steering wheel, the forward/reverse shifter, or a trout. It can quickly be determined that simply touching the gas pedal does nothing, one must actually hold it down. As you only have one arm to work with, this obviously makes steering difficult. The first trick that brought the game to a new level for me was the presence of the alarm clock. Having clumsy bear hands means that your clock will not stay on the dashboard for long, and mine fortuitously landed on the gas pedal, alleviating me from my duties and freeing up my steering hand. Now it was time to forage. In order to catch food, you have to hit it…with your car. This includes berries. Whatever you hit, be it an angry badger, a bushel of berries, or a school of trout, winds up on your dashboard/buffet. You then must grab each thing and hold it near your mouth until it’s gone or bones. This typically leads to a car full of fish skeletons, which all interfere in your already lackluster driving skills. When the timer runs low, you are instructed to “hibernate”. This simply requires you to drive into your cave, which considering how difficult it is to drive already, add to that the likely number of carcasses in your cabin, is not simple. When/if you finally make it back, you are congratulated with a new year in which you have a gain procrastinated must forage in the remaining time until winter. New options/requirements appear as you progress however (seemingly at random), so you might only have 4 minutes or only be able to get berries, etc.
So now I guess I’m supposed to review this. Again, I’m left dumbfounded. My first thought was to complain that the driving is bad, but considering that you’re a bear, it seems that perhaps the driving is right on. I next thought to complain about the simplistic, repetitive nature, but thoughts of Tetris steered me away. I figured cost was always something easy, but it was less than a dollar. I can’t even think of the last thing I spent less than a dollar on. Then I asked, “Why is a bear driving a car anyway?” This got me thinking about sustainable resources, ecological conservation, and the Second Amendment. When I came to, I was naked in the woods, shivering and alone. Tire tracks led to a darkened opening in the rocks. I walked the other way.
Here’s some ridiculous gameplay. This is from the Windows version, but rest assured it handles similarly on the iPhone. This better actually be Justin Smith playing it or I’m going to find this person and beat a life into them.
This is Clerks the Animated Series. Deal.