An old toy (Wacky Wall Crawler) from my childhood has reared its head in an iOS game. The game is far more entertaining than the toy, but is it less frustrating? Come see.
Inspired by physics, the Wacky Wall Crawler was always a fascinating toy as a child. You threw this thing on the wall, it slowly peeled off its tentacles and reattached itself as it defended into your carpet to collect everything not caught by the vacuum; it was a charming toy that you could acquire via a .50 cent (not the rapper) gum ball machine. First5 Games has taken this toy and applied it to a most amusing iOS title called Cling!.
Cling! is set up rather simply. You try to get from home to base. It's fast and furious gameplay that has our wacky wall crawler hanging off a set of small blue dots that help attach and propel our hero towards his/her ultimate goal. Along the way, you run into different sets of dots, such as green dots that don't sustain you as well as the blue. You also run into spiked dots that you can't make contact with other than your tentacle (and they actually pull your guy/gal towards them -- which is instant death). Another element is electric blocks, which you can't make contact with at all, otherwise you die.
First5 Games has taken all of these elements and shaken them together to create creative, and difficult levels for your wall crawler to work through. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, technically it is pretty simple. The game is broken into three initial acts, each has its own designs and degree of difficulty. Towards the end of Act 1, right around level 20 is when you start feeling the difficulty of the game at full force. Large gaps that need to be jumped through the power of propulsion with enemies and bad dots surrounding the path is what reminds you that this game isn't a piece of cake. First5 Games has made a cute wrapper of a game that contains real challenges, and more importantly requires iOS casual gamers to think outside the box a bit. Don't expect this to seem like some simple Angry Birds level design and construction where you can get by quickly and come back later. These levels really do give you a challenge and request that you put down your iOS device and think a little bit before moving. This is the stuff that true gamers crave on the iOS format, and First5 Games delivers.
Having said this, some additional difficulty in Cling! is with the controls, and that's never a good thing. I hate having my thumb cover up a portion of the screen, especially in this type of game that requires me to look ahead as my wall crawler hangs from dot to dot. I found the controls to be very frustrating, as I struggled continually with trying to find a comfort zone with moving my little guy/gal from place to place. When my WWC was whipping around to get some momentum, it never felt like I had completely accurate control/direction when sending them off. Each risky movement would take 3-4 times to get it right, sometimes longer. I think First5 Games might have been better off going with a swipe motion rather than a constant finger to the screen control scheme. Regardless, it just didn't feel comfortable when the game was on the line.
Now, what I did like about this game is that First5 Games was well aware of how difficult they made it. When you get further in the title, you actually have checkpoints scattered through out the tougher levels. Those provide you with some much needed, though temporary, reprieve from the action. For those first-person shooter fans out there, there's nothing quite like catching your breath at a checkpoint before moving on, and you will need these to keep your sanity intact. It was a very wise move on the developers part, and one that pays off.
Speaking of pay off, throughout the levels you will find 'gumdrops' (yes, the candy) that act as a monetary system for Cling!. You are able to purchase characters and upgrades for your WWC through the gumdrop shop, which helps to alleviate some of the frustration you might be experiencing in the title. It's a neat add-on to this title, which adds more value to its overall worth, and it's probably going to be a moneymaker for First5 Games (there are a few objects that cost real cash in the gumdrop shop). It also gives you motivation to explore the entire levels of Cling! and make sure that you didn't miss any spots… sort of like Angry Birds. So, excellent addition to the title.
With all of this laid out there, is the game worth your time and money? Well, for a few dollars you are guaranteed a game that is going to keep glued to your screen for more than two hours. Finding an iOS game that doesn't feel like you can complete it in a day is rare these days, but Cling! falls in that rare category. That alone, not counting the gumdrop add-ons, makes the game worth your time and money. The controls might put people off a bit, though, but it won't ruin the overall experience of the title. It needs to be corrected or at least a different control solution offered.