Developer: Ghost Crab Games
Price: Free
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

When we start a new job, we usually rattle off a pseudo-prayer over and over on our first day: “Dear Lord, don’t let me bungle this.”

Sometimes we do. Sometimes we don’t. And sometimes we botch things up so badly, we feel solidarity with the pill-shaped workers that populate Bungle! by Ghost Crab Games.

Bungle! is a reflex game that’s all about that vital first day on the job. The game’s boss walks players through the process and makes it clear he doesn’t want his new employee to fall, get beat up, stumble into a woodchipper, get gored by an elephant, or launch themselves out of a cannon (the company insurance doesn’t cover goofy cartoon mishaps).

The player actually cycles through several jobs in a single play session, including a circus clown, a newspaper person, a pouty-lipped barista, a lawyer, and lots more. Don’t worry: A single training session covers all these livelihoods.

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The player’s task is the same regardless of what job they’re working, anyway. The worker on-screen marches from side to side, picking up the items necessary for the task at hand. A red bar spreads below their feet. When the on-screen character’s head-shaped icon enters a lit segment of the bar, the player taps the screen to fling newspapers, coffee, paperwork, or whatever is relevant to the job.

As long as the player keeps tapping at the right moments, the action gradually speeds up and the lit sections of the red bar become smaller, making job efficiency that much harder. If the player taps while the head-shaped icon is outside a lit segment, that counts as a bungle. The game ends, the on-screen character suffers an unfortunate accident related to their place of work, and they presumably go on workers’ comp (unless the poor sucker is contracted).

Bungle! is all about achieving high scores, and there are power-ups in place to help the player do just that. Power-ups can be tricky to grab, however, and they’re double-edged swords. They glide across the screen and shift every second, so players may grab a valuable time-slower, or they may cause a screen-shaking earthquake that throws off their timing.

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Bungle!‘s rapid-fire gameplay demands that players engage in one job-run after another. Its addictiveness alone is justification enough to download it, but the goofy presentation really wraps things up nicely. When players unlock new jobs, they probably won’t be able to resist blowing a potential high score just to see the specific death animation for that one career (Personal favorite: The news boy getting punched out by a jock wearing a “BRO FO SHO” shirt).

Anyone that has a menial job this summer will appreciate keeping company with Bungle!. Its small gameplay sessions make it an excellent choice for commutes on public transit. It’s also recommended for quick hits behind the cash register or grease fryer. Just remember: Safety first.

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