Developer: Namco
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

IMG_0087I’m sure that many of us have heard of this fantastically morbid handbook series. Worst Case Scenario normally presents you with ridiculously dire situations, and forces you to choose between bizarre best choices to the worst-case scenarios. The series has been ported the iPhone by Namco Networks, but does the game maintain the series’ classic appeal? The answer is yes and no. It’s the same Worst Case Scenario we know and love…and yet it’s not.

Let me begin by explaining how the game works. You can either enter into a sixteen-question “Survival Test” or choose the Endless mode. You are presented with questions, one at a time, which have multiple-choice answers. The questions come in different forms (true/false, pure facts, picture-based, etc) but it’s all pretty straightforward. Many of the questions should make you laugh, whether from sheer ridiculousness or from sadistic glee. And besides, some of this stuff is good to learn. Did you know that, if you encounter a bear, you should stand still and flare out your coat to make yourself seem larger?

But most of the information you’ll learn from this app isn’t that helpful. Too often, the questions don’t represent “worst-case” scenarios at all. Knowing how to hide a beer belly is not at all the same as knowing how to escape an angry alligator. While there are classic questions like “Where should you grasp a tiger to prevent it from biting you?”, there are also many whimsical ones that just aren’t serious, and therefore aren’t really funny. (I want to know why there are so many golf-themed ones!)

In addition, the questions start repeating far to soon; even though the app supposedly comes pre-loaded with 300 questions, I encountered thee repeats the second time I played through the Survival Test…and there are only sixteen questions per Survival Test anyway! On my third-play through, I saw one question for the third time, as well as other repeats. Jeez! I know that you can purchase extra questions in sets of 300, but why would I waste my money purchasing extras when even a library of 300 feels tiny?

IMG_0088I have other, more minor gripes as well. The interface is often quirky, sometimes moving to quickly and sometimes not moving at all. Something about the app as a whole makes it feel unfinished. While part of Worst Case Scenario’s charm has always come from its rustic feel, I fear that Namco just didn’t put a lot of effort into this app. Simple isn’t always good. The audio could definitely use some work, too.

So, should you grab Worst Case Scenario? My advice, unfortunately, is no. Too many of the questions are boring or simply off-topic; while I do love my history, obscure factoids about Boss Tweed and the Spanish-American War don’t exactly relate to Worst Case Scenario. And having such an absurd number of repeats with each play-through greatly detracts from the overall experience. The handbooks are excellent, but there’s something missing from this app. I think that Worst-Case Scenario is best experienced the old-fashioned way: with a group of friends or family, reading aloud bizarre questions after bizarre question from a physical book. The experience found here just isn’t the same.

Posted in: Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews