: iOS Developer
: Level Eight Publisher
: Chillingo Release Date
: 05/03/2012 Price
Last month, EA was named one of “America’s Worst Companies” by The Consumerist, ranked up against infamous big name consumer abusers including Bank of America, Walmart, and AT&T.
Widespread disdain for the game publisher has lingered among videogame fans for years, and is partially connect to EA’s tendency to buy up development studios close to gamers’ hearts (see Bioware). What’s worse is that in the last few years EA has tried its best to stay “relevant” in the casual/mobile/social game scene. They’ve even resorted to buying up companies like PopCap Games (of Plants Vs. Zombies and Peggle fame), Facebook game veterans Playfish, and iOS fat cats Chillingo.
Ever since striking gold with games like Angry Birds and Cut The Rope, Chillingo has been rapidly firing out cutesy physics-based iOS puzzlers in hopes of once again finding App Store glory. Almost every game Chillingo publishes embodies common principles of casual games that many so-called “hardcore” gamers are fed up with: banal cartoon graphics, simplistic one gesture controls, and the dumbing down of gameplay in favor of accessibility. In other words, Chillingo is the epitome of EA’s bottom-line driven philosophy on game development.
All that said, Robbery Bob is a tried-and-true Chillingo release and it’s not surprising to see more than a few nods to Angry Birds’ winning formula. Robbery Bob gives you a series of puzzle-driven levels to get through with a three-increment completion score added for lasting value. You play as a burglar who has recently gotten out of prison, but is being forced to do the dirty work of his debtors. The top-down stealth game will have you tip-toeing through a series of rooms in search for loot, dodging the glances of cops and security systems alike. Unlike the guess-and-check mechanics of Angry Birds, though, Robbery Bob encourages players to plan out their routes of sneaking and hiding.
For the most part it comes together well. Cops will follow your footprints, hear you running behind them, and even notice open doors. Most importantly, the essential elements of hiding, sneaking, mask-wearing, and making distractions are all quite fun to perform.
But Robbery Bob suffers from a lot of the same problems that plague other Chillingo releases. The art style consists of a tacky 2D/3D blend played out through silly cartoonish antics and forgettable characters—not to mention that a burglary game that pretends to be for kids feels a little strange. Robbery Bob’s gameplay is also extremely simplistic and often ends up sacrificing depth of play for ease of play. You won’t find the mind-boggling multiple levels of thought required to play a game like Beat Sneak Bandit. Instead, Robbery Bob relies on just a handful of gameplay tricks and never manages to be more than a fun little distraction for bus rides and waits at the dentist. In fact, it probably never intended to be more than that.
Our hatred for companies like Wal-mart and AT&T is a double-edged sword. As much as we hate these companies, we still find ourselves coming back to them over and over again. After all, it’s not the products and services themselves we hate. It’s the way these massive, clumsy companies handle them. In the same way, Robbery Bob, like many games in Chillingo’s catalogue, features some great game ideas that are about as fun as poring through the shiny things at Wal-mart. Too bad that dirt cheap plastic chair won’t last more than a few months.