How much are you willing to pay for a quality mobile game? A dollar? Three dollars? Ten dollars? How about buying items in the game you already purchased? Profit through micro-transactions has, for better or worse, proven itself to be a mainstay in the app age. If executed properly, micro-transactions can be a good way for developers to give consumers a little extra something for a small fee. If executed poorly, it can leave the consumer feeling annoyed. Hungry Slimes falls into the latter category, which is unfortunate, because the game has a lot going for it otherwise.
Like most good mobile games, Hungry Slimes (developed by Annahid Games) plays relatively simply. A bunch of green blobs slowly work their way to the bottom of the screen from the top. The player attempts to keep them from achieving this goal by slinging exploding green blobs at them in order to destroy them. If too many get to the bottom, game over. Think of it as a mixture between Angry Birds and Puzzle Bobble. To make things more interesting, an explosion too far away to destroy an approaching blob but still relatively close to it will push the blob away from the explosion. While simple, this mechanic creates some serious challenges and opportunities in game. For example, if you sling an exploding blob too far and it ends up behind the approaching blob, the explosion will blast the blob closer to the bottom of the screen – obviously something you do not want. Alternatively, an explosion below an approaching blob will push it upwards. Not as good as destroying the blob outright, but it buys you some extra time to finish the job of blowing it up. In later levels you’ll begin seeing more blobs, obstacles that make aiming and shooting more difficult, and giant blobs that eat your exploding ones to become bigger and more dangerous.
The game plays nice and smooth. Plenty of thought obviously went into balancing challenge and fun, which makes for an entertaining way to pass the time on your phone or tablet. As a bonus, the online leader boards work well and add to the replayability of the game. In my first few game sessions I found myself determined to play “just once more” in order to live longer or best an old score, a sure sign that the developer did a lot of things right.
Sad to say, some aspects of Hungry Slimes are not as polished as the gameplay itself. I find some of the menus a bit confusing, and the sound does get a bit repetitive. The biggest issue with the game, however, lies within the way in which the developer attempts to monetize it. Let me make it clear that I am all for a developer making money off his or her creation. Over the years I have sunk an embarrassingly large amount of cash into apps for my phone and tablet. But the approach taken with the game simply does not make sense. In addition to having the standard approach of offering both a free ad-supported version and a paid version of the game on the Google Play store, Hungry Slimes uses an in-game currency (golden slimes) that allow the player to purchase power-ups, trophies, and an extra game mode. The player can earn golden slimes by playing, but it accumulates slowly. Very slowly. Of course, the player can skip all of that pesky playing and plop down real money to purchase some golden slimes.
One dollar buys 400 golden slimes, which is enough to purchase the extra game mode and still have 200 golden slimes left over. Purchasing part of a game that has already been paid for, either by buying the game or viewing ads, seems strange to me. But things get worse. The player also has the option to buy two trophies in the game. I do not exactly know what buying a trophy does, if anything, but buying both of them it will put the player back 3500 golden slimes, or about nine US dollars given the current exchange rate of dollars to golden slimes. Power ups are the final slap in the wallet. The player can select one active power up at a time, which do anything from make your explosion larger to changing the explosion into a laser. The most expensive power up is fifty golden slimes, which equals about twelve cents.
My experience with Hungry Slimes started out great. Slinging little green exploding slimes at approaching non-exploding slimes entertained me far more than many mobile games I have tried. The mildly confusing menus don’t stand in the way of the enjoyment, either. What might rub some players the wrong way, unfortunately, are the in-app purchases. With a few minor changes, Hungry Slimes would be an absolutely easy to recommend time waster. In its current state it falls just below that.
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