I’ve found myself constantly on the hunt for a good mobile game to play, because let’s face it — apps that are capable of starting revolutions like Angry Birds did are few and far between. I did my usual, periodical trip to the top free games chart at the App Store. At the #4 spot was a seemingly intriguing game called Waterslide Extreme. Lured into a sense of false trust, I downloaded the game. After several plays, I can only be amazed that it even got in the top 10 at all.
First of all, the game hasn’t been updated since 2009, and I’m pretty sure that’s a really big red flag, and only adds more to the enigma of how this game is doing so well amongst the likes of Subway Surfers, the mobile port of the online Agar.io game, and a mobile solitaire (which is another mystery entirely). Additionally, the game has almost 230,000 ratings, which meant that there were people that really had to push this game to the top with as much effort as it would take to cut down a tree using a package of toothpicks.
“But Sam, is the game itself good?” Well, if you’re a fan of cheap downloadable browser games from 2004, then I think you’ll find yourself seated cozily in the “niche” that Waterslide Extreme carves out. The visuals are pretty shallow, even for 2009 standards; that year brought us Canabalt, the founder of the “endless runner” craze, which had more visual polish (even with an arcade-style interface!) with its 2D gameplay. When I start connecting dots and realizing that your app that has been released in the age of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 has worse graphics than the original Playstation or even the deader-than-disco Dreamcast, you know there’s a problem. The drab visuals are accompanied by even shoddier music consisting of Garageband compositions that give away all too well when one loop finishes and another starts. For some reason, there are no additional sound effects. Just because. It’s at the very least good that the game has the decency to offer to turn off the music.
Gameplay-wise, the game isn’t really much more than a spitting-image precursor of the water segments in Temple Run, down to the steering mechanics and the coins to nab and the obstacles to avoid. However, in this case the coins aren’t coins, but rather plumbobs ripped straight out of The Sims. THEY’RE NOT DIAMONDS. THEY’RE PLUMBOBS. GET IT RIGHT. Waterslide Extreme also has all of the generic collectables:
- A “Mario star”, so to speak, something that grants you brief (emphasis on brief) invincibility
- A boost that is so fast that you are virtually control-less for five seconds
The two games do have some differentiations, unfortunately. The obstacles are sensible in Temple Run, like having to sway out of the path of a blockage, or submerging yourself underwater to avoid a tree branch that you can’t sway out of. This game could’ve had you swerving to avoid breaks in the waterslide, but nooooooooo. That would make too much sense, so what are your enemies in the game? Crabs and evil rubber ducks.
What. Is. This. Game.
There isn’t really much of a change to this algorithm, except sometimes the sky gets palette-swapped for a sunset, although calling it a sunset would be disgracing one of the most beautiful parts of the day. What I should call it is a purple-orange crossfading gradient.
Besides that, I have to let the gremlins inside me run free. I need to address how if this were a real-life waterslide, both its ludicrous design and its safety disregard to both workers and customers would be absolutely implausible. This brings up two questions:
- Why and how would anyone make a giant waterslide careening through the city?
- Who would be ballsy enough and stupid enough to try and ride said waterslide?
Even if you did muster the courage to take on the slide, the ride would probably be one of the most terrifying experiences of your life. The waterslide is even made to have a glass bottom at times to show you how high up you are and what a horrible life decision you’ve made by getting on this contraption of death. Of course, it’s only traumatizing given that you survive through the whole thing, considering the game proposes a threat that if you lean your phone too far to one side, you can potentially fly off the waterslide. If you happen to do so, the game slaps you on the wrist with a tongue-in-cheek “Whoops!” that totally overshadows your grim fate in a way that almost feels taunting.
(I’m sure that if you can afford to construct let alone conceive this giant water park fever dream, you can afford to clear up a few lawsuits from casualties’ families.)
In the basis of formulating opinions for this game, I’ve coined a phrase that I’d like to connect to this game. The phrase is “dumb-addictive”, and it describes anything that doesn’t really make a high goal for itself yet at its core has a basic mechanic that is so easy to get hooked onto that you keep coming back. As film critic Gene Siskel once said, “A film that aims low should not be praised for hitting that target.” At the end of the day, Waterslide Extreme is just another dumb-addictive game that doesn’t even require touch so as to simplify the gaming experience further. It makes you feel belittled and you are all the lesser for allowing this game to rob your time, energy, and phone space. Had it been released as an early-2000s browser game, it would’ve worked better and made more sense. As a game that “boasts” 3D graphics that are outdone by many a 2D mobile experience, the only way Waterslide Extreme could’ve dug itself any deeper is if it asked for money.
Final rating: 3/10
Do you have any good mobile games to recommend to me? Leave them in the comments and have yourself a good rest of the summer.