Red Rocket Games attempts to hand off players an 8-bit arcade retro title, but will their butter fingers fumble it into the palms of failure?
iQuickies ™ is my own brand of reviews covering iPhone titles only. These are spread into three (3) segments; Description, Review, Recommendation. Description describes the product, Review holds the actual critique, and Recommendation gives my brief answer to the classic question “should I buy?” Rounding it out are reference information and a flickr of all in-game screen shots, for reader interest and use.
Mr. Hand is an 8-bit retro arcade title, fitted with the devilish atmosphere of espionage classics like James Bond 007 and controls using the accelerometer. The goal is to guide your character, Mr. Hand, through an endless field of hands in the attempt of achieving the next highest score, via capturing enemy hands. All enemy hands assume both R-P-S positions and colors, all dependent on the player’s agent. Green characters are R-P-S neutral matches to the player’s agent and are safe to collect. Yellow characters are R-P-S losing matches to the player’s agent and are also safe to collect, but when collected will change the agent’s position to the next in rotation (which in turn transforms the color orientations of enemy hands). Red characters, on the other hand, are R-P-S winning matches to the player’s agent and will instantly end the game if contact occurs. Be warned, as progression occurs enemy hands will begin to chase after the player’s agent in a deadly game of tag. To aid the player in this deadly, endless continuum are two power ups and turbo! The first power up (Glove of Invincibility) in a temporary shield, good for one contact with a red hand. The second power up (Golden Glove) in turn is a temporary invincibility mode, which shoots the player’s agent into a hyper speed mode. While in this mode the agent is able to collect all hands safely, regardless of color orientation. Though, be careful, for collection without attentive care will result in a player’s invincibility cutting out as they’re tagging a red hand! The final tool is a simple turbo, allowing for a quick escape from enemy hands in pursuit. Ending it are the extra features; an Option menu to control sensitivity, music, and sound effects, Leaderboards to compare personal and global (top 10) scores, an ability to play iPod music and podcasts, and a Challenge choice to alert others of your accomplishments.
Puns aside, Mr. Hand is one of those titles you just can’t help but be curious about. Everything about its presentation screams, “You know you wanna!” A stylish 8-bit retro design, a cheesy premise lined with cheesy phrases, all tied together with a simple gameplay mechanic. Acknowledging this tease, and being a chump for the stylish and cheesy, I took the dip! What I found was what I expected, a likable game in a shallow pool.
The game is simple. Survive for as long as you can while collecting hands, using what ever fate happens to drop your way. What shook things up for me was the way the colors interacted with my agent’s contact. Honestly, for such a simple mechanic based off a concept from a simple game (R-P-S), I was impressed with its influence on me. What I found was myself being attentive, watching and calculating the cause and affects to capturing hands! It got to where I was strategically planning my captures. At one point it even got to the point where, being chased by a barrage of red hands, I quickly captured a yellow hand as to turn the red menace into a harmless point heap. While not genius, it filled me with a sense of satisfaction. Even more satisfying were the power-ups I wielded, retaining a shield at all times and grabbing the Golden Glove when ever possible to collect my un-gloved foes.
Though, I quickly found that death was always a moments notice away when my mind began to wander due to a weening attention span. My first harsh lesson was the Golden Glove. While a quick way to grab points, it is a risky game to engage in with a wandering mind. I can’t count the times I, dumb wittingly, rushed through a mindless Golden Glove only to revert back, right in time to be tagged by a big red meanie. Even worse, the times I forgot that the sides, like Asteroids, are in fact not solid but merely port your agent to the opposite end. This caused me great moments of shame with my twitchy hands as I watched my agent over shoot, port to the other side, and ram right into a red hand. While no fault of the game itself, I found that the mechanics began to turn into a more of a hindrance as my session’s length multiplied.
There lied what was probably the biggest issue with the game for me, the ability to hold my attention span. While a simple game, it was common to have my mind become numb to its existence and wander off in internal pondering of other thoughts. Like grinding in a JRPG, my mind began to fall into a pattern of play, which while nifty, also lent itself to mindless deaths. Despite the thrill of hunting a spot in the leaderboards (as Sr. Mano, Spanish for Mr. Hand, no less) or mechanics the fact was that I was constantly droning off from disinterest. Even more so if I had a podcast going on in the background.
Mr. Hand is an interesting title and is very easy on the eyes and humor, but it failed to keep my mind with it for lengthy sessions beyond the first few “I’m gonna do it this time” attempts. It’s an appreciable title in the retro vein and a good example of the Red Rocket Games school of style, but when put up against the test of endurance it sadly lagged.
Recommendation: Think about it!
Hr. Hand, bluntly put, is a fun novelty. Though, with all novelties, your interests will begin to wain eventually. Still, that does not admonish the fact that as a game it is entertaining during the time you put in. Personally, I do not regret the purchase but at the same time don’t find myself lamenting any potential time not spent with it. In the end I say look at the facts, the price and think, “Does this tickle my wallet?”