Fruit Rocks ReviewOctober 19, 2012
A mediocre clone of popular mobile games.
iOS, Android, and other mobile games are, in most cases, so short and simple that they don’t warrant a full-blown review. These games, often found for a dollar (or less) on their respective marketplaces, are self-admittedly not the most involved titles when it comes to storytelling or rich gameplay experiences. Instead, consumers are usually treated to pick-up-and-play, fast paced games that aren’t designed to compete with the big-budget, epic juggernauts that most home console games are. So in an effort to save some time here, and for those of you that want the truth right out of the gate, I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m not a very big fan of Fruit Rocks.
The side-scrolling action game, developed by the upstart Ad Maiora Studio, is a Frankenstein’s monster of popular mobile games. The basic premise of Fruit Rocks is simple: stop an alien invasion on Earth by throwing fruit both at land and air based opponents. The game boasts physics-based play, which translates to “we just ripped off the majority of our mechanics from Angry Birds and Cut the Rope.” Various fruits are launched from trees by pulling back on the screen, and then adjusting trajectory before lifting your finger for takeoff. Just as in Angry Birds, the different types of fruit have different effects. Apples and oranges are straightforward shots, whereas bananas boomerang at targets, and return to the tree they were launched from. When high-velocity fruit isn’t enough to stop the aliens, random rocks swinging in the sky must be released by swiping your finger across the ropes that hold them.
To up the game difficulty, Ad Maiora chose to make Fruit Rocks a perpetual side-scroller. The screen never stops moving, chugging along to reveal new foes ever few seconds. The challenge here, is that to successfully reach the end of a level, you must stop enemies from fleeing off screen. If more than a few get away-usually 4-6, depending on the level-you fail, and must restart the mission. Along the way, you can also shoot power ups out of the sky to gain their benefits. Some of these power ups clear the screen of enemies, while others give you the ability to tap the screen and cause a mini explosion, scaring the aliens towards center screen, where they are less likely to get away.
All of the aforementioned mechanics and elements of gameplay sound pretty decent, right? Well that’s the problem with Fruit Rocks. On paper it seems like a fun, tongue-in-cheek rip on mobile gaming, but once you spend some time with the game, it becomes clear that the title is crippled by a handful of faults. The first of these is the feedback. Instead of the tight controls that Angry Birds employs, Fruit Rocks is a mess of hit-or-miss gameplay, where the trajectory of any given shot completely changes with the slightest twitch of the finger. Nailing moving targets feels impossible at points, and the fact that the screen is also constantly in motion makes a few sequences in Fruit Rocks downright infuriating. To make matters worse, the rope-cutting parts of the game are unbearable. Time and time again my finger swipes seemed to do absolutely nothing to the rope that held crucial aerial weapons like boulders and bombs.
Also, while there was a fair amount of gameplay to be had with the 28 stages of Fruit Rocks (taking place across countryside and desert settings), the overall presentation falls short, considering what else is out there at this price point. And to me, that is the biggest disappointment with Ad Moira’s game. There are so many other titles to choose from in the mobile games market, many of which being significantly better that Fruit Rocks, that it makes a recommendation for the game pretty hard to give, even at only $1. If there is some amount of redemption to be had here, though, it would be found in the bright visuals and campy, entertaining music of Fruit Rocks. But hey, even a house with a shiny coat of paint is doomed to fail if it’s built on a foundation of mud, right?