Texting of the Bread Review
It’s one thing to be a gamer, or write about games, or even run a website about games. But to go from that role to actually publish a title is something else entirely. The fine folks at ScrewAttack.com, a well-known “hardcore” gaming website, have just published their first game, Texting of the Bread. It’s obvious why they did. Texting of the Bread is one of the most enjoyable iPhone games out there.
First, a brief bit of history. ScrewAttack (named for a famous power-up in the Metroid series of games) was founded in 2006 by two guys who loved retro games, started with their own podcast, then started to make a bunch of fun videos. Over the last few years the site has grown to include a number of different features, characters, forums and more for hardcore gamers. They now run an annual gaming convention, their own retail gaming store as well as online merchandise. They have truly put their money where their mouth is.
As their first game publishing foray, Texting of the Bread is a solid entry. A parody of Sega’s Typing of the Dead (itself a reworking of their House of the Dead on-rails zombie light-gun arcade game, where you type words on a keyboard to kill zombies rather than shoot them) manages to not take itself seriously at all while delivering a strong gameplay package. The story is perfunctory, involving a mad scientist out to take over the world using his army of gingerbread zombies, and an unnamed red-haired female protagonist must stop them (an obvious caricature of one of ScrewAttack’s staff members, Corey). Her weapon of choice: a gatling gun that shoots milk from a cow strapped to her back, along with two silos of milk that fill up over time. Once the silos are filled, she can unleash a devastating milk wave (by shaking the iPhone) that acts like a smart bomb.
In order to defeat the gingerzombies, you must text the word that appears beside them. The words can be anything, of any length. The lower half of the screen uses the same keyboard as the standard iPhone one you’re used to, so there’s no learning curve. If you need to change targets, simply tap the zombie you wish to aim for, and text away.
The premise is simple, but very fun. Often, levels will be themed, with words that are related to the same subject. Other levels actually tell an entire story. Half the fun of Texting of the Bread is seeing what words will come next.
The zombies also add a lot of variety to the gameplay. Some of them are teeny-tiny one-letter rolling gingerbreads, while others might take multiple words to eliminate. Since they also move at different speeds, you’ll need to strategize about the order in which you take out your bakery-fresh foes. There are even bosses that are larger than the screen can display. There’s enough going on here that you get that feeling of “just one more wave!” and realize you’ve just spent the last 20 minutes texting to kill.
There are a ton of levels to play through: 75 main waves, plus bonus levels (along with the requisite promises of free updates) along with three difficulty levels and an endless survival mode. But what’s really great here are all the achievements that Texting of the Bread offers. There are about 70 achievements, ranging from accuracy to types of enemy slain and more. Along with Facebook integration and online leaderboards, Texting of the Bread has a lot to offer.
The graphics and sounds in the game are equally fun. The gingerbread zombies are fun to watch, especially the larger enemies. They moan with a delightful zombie grunt, and the mini cut scenes are drawn quite well. The music is a pseudo horror theme with just the right amount of cheesiness. If you don’t like either the sound effects or music, there are options to mute either.
But, sadly, not everything is perfect in Texting of the Bread. For some reason, there is one very long load time when you either start a new game or resume your saved one. There’s also some minor loading between levels. The one-liners (I think there are only five of them) that Corey says at the beginning of each level are banal and get stale quickly. Somehow, I doubt the heroine would be shouting, “This game is awesome!” at the zombies horde as they approached.
Some gamers may not like some of the words chosen for some of the levels. There’s some crude humor in the game (with words like “pee” or “puke”), although there are no “four-letter words.” There are also some words that only followers of ScrewAttack would understand, such as “avgn” (an acronym for Angry Video Game Nerd, one of their video series). Though this doesn’t affect gameplay any, you may not be in on the joke.
Most importantly, though, texting for extended periods of time can hurt. I was only ever able to play in 15-20 minute stretches, and then needed to give my thumbs a break. You can stop and save anytime, thankfully, but it’s still something to watch out for.
Texting of the Bread is definitely a fun game, even if it’s not for everyone. If you’re used to tweeting a lot, updating your status on the go or break your phone company’s text messaging plans, then Texting of the Bread is a guaranteed hit. ScrewAttack should be proud of their first outing, managing to cater to their fanbase while offering something that the rest of the iPhone gaming world can appreciate. Go ahead and take a bite out of the gingerbread zombies. They’ll be back for more.