Developer: Cartoon Network
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Graphics and Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

I’m not entirely sure where I was the first time I saw the promo video for Vending Machine Champ. A few of my friends have told me that I saw the video during an Adult Swim commercial break, which is entirely possible. Adult Swim, if you have never heard of it, is the late night version of Cartoon Network, primarily geared towards college kids… and myself. Most of the shows have a dry sense of humor and a strange graphical style, with commercial breaks consisting of the channel giving you messages such as, “Mississippi is the fattest state, followed by pretty much the rest of the south” and “Virginia is selling lotto tickets for a jackpot that was already won. Y’all so stupid”. It’s a bizarre television experience… one that is quite hard to explain.

IMG_0020So last night I was digging around the app store and saw the game. In a desperate panic, I clicked, ‘Buy’, and was greeted with the lovely message on the right. I love age checks like this… it’s like any 16 year old in his or her right mind would hit cancel.

Gameplay
On to the game review (it’s about time right?). Vending Machine Champ (VMC) is a pretty basic tapping accuracy game. The premise is that you are an aspiring vending machine champion, trying to extract the scrumptious potato chips without hurting yourself in the process. The way this works is that numbers pop up all over the vending machine (which is wobbling wildly by the way) that you have to hit. By hitting the machine accurately and persistently, you can reach the end of each stage, furthering your quest for glory. Mishitting the numbers causes you to either punch glass (which eventually will tear off your arm) or have the machine fall on you, killing you in the process.

Graphics and Sound
Visually, the game is very much a product of Adult Swim. If you are a fan of the Adult Swim, the visual style will instantly remind you of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, in all of it’s hand drawn, cell shaded goodness. The animation isn’t perfect, but it is definitely smooth enough for what it was designed for. IMG_0022The audio in VMC is relatively sparse, but very high quality. The best part of the audio is when the announcer, who is seemingly brought over from Crazy Taxi, typically throws in a snide comment or two at the beginning of each round. He doesn’t say much throughout the game, which is a shame, but the high quality boxing gym style crowd noise certainly fills in the gap quite nicely.

Replay Value
I like the game, I really do, but I don’t see myself playing it in the weeks to come, other than to show it off as a gag game. It’s relatively simple to play and is quite appealing to the eyes and ears, but there is really nothing to it. To me, it’s entertainment value is quite similar to a Joe Cartoon… play it a few times, beat it, then move on. I really can’t knock it too hard because of its $1.99 price point, but there are many more worthwhile experiences on the iPhone. In the future, assuming the game gets updated, (or if a sequel comes out) I’d love to see some Fight Night style stat add-ons, or some kind of option to customize your character. The game really does have quite a bit of potential… it would just need to be fleshed out.

Overall
For $1.99, I would recommend this game to every Adult Swim fan out there. Stylistically, the game is gold, but there just isn’t quite enough depth to hold me over for any extended period of time. I really hope that this game is updated though, because I’d love to do some sort of VMC career mode… defeating all the toughest vending machines in the land.

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