Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Recently over winter break I discovered that one of our truly favorite developers, Busythings, had developed a new app for iPad named Snowball Shootout. Downloading this app was an absolute no-brainer as a free application, but I soon forgot that I had added this to our device. It was my son who discovered it, instantly understanding that this was a new game from one of his favorite developers as their style is utterly recognizable, even from the small thumbnail image seen on the iPad.
Snowball Shootout has quickly become a new favorite game of my boy’s, as he has reached a new low in asking me to leave the iPad in his bed so he can play this new game immediately upon waking - a request I denied. There is a lot going on that my son really enjoys with this game, incorporating some elements seen in Angry Birds such as a sling shot that needs to be manned, here used to shoot snowballs at the blob-like Pink Men that are seen hiding in trees or popping out of igloos. Controls are simple as one controls both the strength and angle of each shots with the drag of a finger allowing snowballs to be lined up in an exact manner, which I prefer to “pullback and pray” gameplay of Angry Birds.
I adore all the details that are universally seen throughout these apps as well as the wonderfully whimsical recurring characters such as Brown Monkey working the slingshot (here dressed as a reindeer), the Pink Men seen in many a Busythings app, as well as Monster - a heavy-browed orange character who is a foil for many of these logic games and now on the side of the player as he holds a net of snow over trees populated by Pink Men. A snowball into the net will send snow onto the Pink Men, taking them out. Do also aim at targets one may see on the trees as a hit here will shake the trees, dropping the Pink Men down to the ground, defeated. My son’s favorite detail is the ability to hit a bird flying across the sky, as the falling bird will create a rolling snowball that engulfs and removes many Pink Men from the ground. Try to avoid the Flying Angel, however, as she does not like being hit by snowballs and will revive a Pink Man when this happens.
It is worth noting that the most sensitive families may believe that the sight of the Pink Men, once hit by snowballs and then slumped over to be a little morbid, resembling dead bodies - imagery supported as the Angel’s re-animation of these characters - but I see this detail as fun and witty, with the use of non-lethal snowballs really minimizes this concern in my opinion. Although there is a winter, if not Christmas, theme going on as the trees have some simple seasonal decorations, this is an app that surely will stand the test of time with my son who has completed these sixteen levels but continues to come back to this app to increase his number of stars awarded, based on how many snowballs it takes to clear the board.
I am also excited to show my son that this game can also become more advanced by removing the dotted line hint that shows where the snowball will land when changes are made to the force and distance of the shots. I have tried this more difficult mode, and this game has become much harder without this visual clue. I do wish that one were given extra snowballs to account for this difference as players learn from experience what different strength/distance combinations look like. I am happy, however, that it is very simple and accessible to switch between being given a clue to the flight pattern and not from the menu page - a nice touch that allows children to toggle back and forth as they learn to visualize where their snowballs will land based on what they have learned in the easier mode. I have been equally impressed with the apps developed by Busythings as a whole, and I appreciate how this free app gives parents a glimpse at the style and substance of theses educational games that children will obsess over.