Developer: Capcom Mobile
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod Touch

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Rating: ★★★★½

Those of a younger generation may not remember Mr. Bill, the clay character featured in SNL shorts in the late ’70s. Those who do recall him remember a hilarious series of skits involving the unfortunate protagonist being repeatedly killed or maimed in various gruesome ways by Mr. Hands, often spurred on by the malicious Sluggo. Now gamers young and old can take control of Mr. Bill in his latest adventure, but unfortunately for him life hasn’t gotten any less painful.

The game’s premise finds Mr. Bill at work for Sluggo on his old foe’s farm as well as his circus, and danger is lurking at all times. It’s difficult to categorize the title’s genre, but it’s a catapult-style “avoid the danger” game a la Kitten Cannon or Toss the Turtle. Players start each level by setting Mr. Bill’s launch angle and then flinging the poor devil across the screen in the hopes of making it to the goal. You just have to watch out for the fire breathers, hungry lions, piles of manure and inconveniently-placed pitchforks that all stand to cut your flight short in the most painful way possible. Thankfully, there are helpful items like trampolines and trapezes to help Mr. Bill succeed, not to mention pickups that allow our clay hero to flap his Play-doh arms and adjust his altitude at will. The end result is an entertaining and addictive experience that will keep you interested for quite a while.

One of the most memorable things about the old SNL skits were the voices, with Mr. Hand’s calm narration providing a hilarious counterpoint to Mr. Bill’s frantic cries of “Oh Nooooo!” Thankfully, all the memorable sound clips are back, and you’ll delight every time Mr. Bill lets out an exuberant “Yay!” after finishing a particularly nasty level or the chorus chimes in with “Oh, man!” when you fail spectacularly.

The game also packs in plenty of content, with nearly 30 story levels spread across two different landscapes, each of which feature a special medal challenge that creates replay incentive. Furthermore, the title boasts a couple of endless levels which allow you to rack up high scores as you fling Mr. Bill as far as possible before he meets an unfortunate end. The game also teases a special Halloween-themed bonus level to be released soon, so this may be a gift that keeps on giving.

Mr. Bill’s downsides are pretty minimal, and only serve as minor blemishes on an otherwise stellar app. The sound effects in each level can grow repetitive rather quickly, and only having two level themes could ultimately bore some players. Perhaps the biggest negative is that the deaths in the game don’t really live up to the standard set by SNL. While Mr. Bill may occasionally impale himself or catch on fire, there’s almost no deformation or even cartoon violence. The most “gruesome” of his deaths involves being eaten by a lion, but even then he just sort of flies apart. While it may be weird to hear a call for more violence in a game, those familiar with the skits will know exactly what I mean when I say the app sort of misses the spirit of the shorts.

In spite of these flaws Mr. Bill is a delightful trip down memory lane for those who knew him, and a fun and wacky experience for those who don’t. This game hits all the high points for an app: it’s fun, it’s simple and it’s nearly impossible to put down. Also, it’s a steal at its current price, so consider this game a dollar well spent.

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