Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad
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Ever since the first humans chiseled out a message on a rock and sent it via messenger to another cave the poor mailman has been beset by hardship. Back in ancient times it was saber tooth cats and other voracious predators who foiled humans' attempts to communicate, and in Mailmen it's a neighborhood full of suspiciously organized and coordinated dogs. What the game manages to really drive home is that it's not much more fun to pretend to be a mailman than it actually is in real life.
Players control a team of mail carriers (Johnny, Charlie and Dave) as they attempt to navigate the neighborhood delivering mail and picking up letters while avoiding the seemingly all-seeing eyes of suburban canines. Apparently the city of Greenville has no leash laws, because if you're spotted by one of the patrolling pooches they'll make a beeline to your position to bite your bottom. The dogs are also cleverly assigned different skills; chihuahuas' barks will draw bigger dogs to your position, and beagles, can see farther and wider than most, making them tough to sneak past.
The good news is the guys aren't helpless, as each of them has a handful of special abilities that will help you make it through the neighborhood unscathed. For instance, Johnny can use rope to tie up dogs and leave them incapacitated, while Dave can disguise himself as a fire hydrant and Charlie can toss a tennis ball to distract would-be aggressors. Each character sports a number of unique skills, and players need to carefully balance all three in order to succeed.
While the idea behind Mailmen is clever, the execution is sorely lacking. Controls can be finicky at times and if you don't carefully babysit the moves of each character it's far too easy to wander smack into a dog. This becomes a major issue in later levels when you need to carefully orchestrate a series of precise movements between all three characters in order to proceed unharmed. Making matters more frustrating is that each stage pretty much has one specific solution, and slipping up puts you in a world of pain. Couple that with the fact that there are no in-level checkpoints and suddenly one wrong move can easily erase a great deal of work.
Mailmen is a cute, clever idea for a game which just seems to be missing a few key components. All the elements are there, but it doesn't quite fit together perfectly. This may be a good game to check out down the road when the price drops, but for now you can skip it and not feel like you're missing out on much.