There will be blood… and possibly cake.
You’ve really got to hand it to Spanish developer Cookiebit. This über-small team has only been creating games since the latter part of 2011, but with a knack for subtle simplicity and a unique bent on the greatest elements from gaming past, they’ve put together some of the most addictive mobile and tablet titles in recent memory—just check out the Tetris-esque Gravitron Block if you don’t believe us—And now with the newly released iOS 8-bit spectacular, 1001 Attempts, the boys at Cookiebit are taking game addiction to a whole new level.
At first glance, 1001 Attempts appears to be a walk in the park. You’ll take control of a strange, pink, cape-clad creature whose one and only mission is to collect points by utilizing touch-screen controls to slide back and forth/up and down the screen in the pursuit of hearts and gems. He’s a simple looking fellow, but also strangely adorable.
“@nodlag the artist created a little character that is highly visible in a background without objects,” team member Paco Camerana Collado told us. “The little hero doesn’t have a story, I suppose he is like a fish out of water.”
At first, you will contend with a mere handful of traps and enemies, but slowly, an outrageous arsenal of life-threatening flames and lasers and foes begin to reveal themselves; if it’s not those stupid buzz saws that get you, it’s the barrage of rockets or that lousy disembodied skull that follows you everywhere. The longer you play the more adept you will become at avoiding the pitfalls, but even then there are times when you’ll be tempted to throw your iPhone out the window in rage. In other words, you will die. A lot.
Everything is presented in nostalgic 8-bit glory and, despite some rather glib on-screen “encouragement” between deaths (“You can’t spell slaughter without laughter” or “You may not have enjoyed this but at least it was over quickly” or “Try again, there is a cake at the end”), you’ll slowly realize that you’re hooked on the challenge. You’ll also learn where you sit on the leaderboards between rounds which adds more incentive to get those hearts and gems…y’know, so you can make your friends look like fools!
The music of 1001 Attempts hearkens back to the days of perfectly poppy MIDI orchestration. For gamers who came up with the dulcet tones of NES or Sega Genesis games, this is a sweet reminder of the games of yesteryear - but this old-world musical charm might be lost on a younger generation. Still, no matter your place in the pantheon of gaming experience, the bottom line is that the music is cheerful, effective and spot-on for the platform.
Touch controls are the Achilles heel of 1001 Attempts, especially since directional buttons fade away when you aren’t actively using them. Perhaps this frees up more room for the crazy traps to appear onscreen, but it grows endlessly frustrating to die because you meant to hit left but wound up flying right. Even if there were superior controls, it’s rare enough to find an iOS game whose action isn’t obscured by player thumbs. Regardless, it’s a minor complaint.
1001 Attempts a steal at its launch price, and is an easy game to jump right into. Plus, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t notice you’ve just put in something like 6 an ½ hours (and at least 1,001 attempts) until your mom says it’s dinner-time. And really, this is the beauty ofthe game. It is the type of project that proves not every game released has to be an over-thought or over-complicated, blockbuster movie-caliber experience. Sometimes less is more and you just want to jump into a simple game for mindless fun or to kill time.
“We think the best part of our work is that we only make games that we want to play,” says Collado. “We think that a game for mobile devices can be played in a bus or in a few metro stations.” Consider the nature of 1001 Attempts, that’s well said.
Oh, and in case you were wondering about that cake at the end, Collado had this to say, “Play a lot and maybe in a couple of weeks you will discover the secret…or maybe not.” Sounds like we’ve got our work cut out for us.
- Stripped-down fun in a pleasant package. Retro tunes that’ll remind you of your early gaming days. Little-to-no learning curve.
- Not exactly a fleshed-out experience. The simplicity will hit the spot for some but bore others. There’s a difference between challenging and just plain cheap.