The Game: Funky Smugglers
The Device: Droid X
The Price: $0.99 on Google Play, App Store
The Basics: From 11 Bit Studios, creators of the excellent “tower offense” title Anomaly Warzone Earth, comes a much more casual game. Funky Smugglers sees you playing a TSA agent that has to remove the many (many, many) weapons that people are trying to smuggle onto a plane. Using an x-ray panel similar to the one in Total Recall you’ll easily see what each passenger is carrying, violating their civil rights to a funky 1970s soundtrack.
You’ll pull weapons off a handful of caricatures, guys with big fros and boomboxes, with a little old white lady thrown in for variety, or perhaps to offset any potential cries of racism. As they board the plane you’re never told their destination but it must be somewhere awful, as they’re holding everything from scissors and hammers to grenades and machineguns, and occasionally will drop live bombs. In this bizarre world you allow them to board as soon as you strip them of their arsenal, no harm, no foul.
Harmful objects show up highlighted in red, nestled among the skeletons of the people. Safe objects- everything from shoes to apples, are highlighted in yellow but you lose a life if you try to take one off. Letting a red object past the scanner makes you lose life as well, and if you lose three lives your game is over. You remove the weapons by tapping on them (with multiple fingers if you like- the game supports multitouch) but you can hold down your finger to grab multiple objects at once, sweeping across the screen to build a combo for a high score. You can only hold onto items for a limited time so you’ll have to learn how to juggle them to keep the chain going.
The Review: Funky Smugglers at first seems like there’s nothing to it but soon you’ll learn how to get high scores by tossing items up and grabbing them again on the way down, sweeping your finger along the screen and picking up all the red items while dodging the green ones. It’s a thrill when your collection of weapons gets huge, when you’re carrying 50+ dangerous weapons at once and worry that you’ll miss one and lose the whole score.
While the game plays the same every single time it scales to your skill, so if you start grabbing a huge combo from the beginning it will get harder right away, even though it’s still the same thing over and over. Levels pass with increasing numbers of passengers with more and more items hidden on their person, and the speed ratchets up.
A few power-ups change the gameplay by speeding it up or slowing it down, or by giving you a magnet that pulls all the metal items off of your passengers. It’s such a handy tool that you’ll wonder why they just don’t install them in the scanners. The items are fun but what will keep you going are the missions.
Ahh, missions. For mobile games it’s the new achievements, the things that keep you playing an otherwise repetitive experience over and over. Here you’re given three missions to attempt, all kinds of things from catching bombs to lasting a certain amount of time without letting a red item through. Once you complete a mission you’ll earn coins and be given a new one to attempt, the better to suck you right back into a new game. (There are achievements to earn as well, of course.) As always in these games coins can be used to purchase various powerups, such as one that improves the duration of your magnet to let you hold onto items longer. You can also buy new funky songs or characters to harass.
There’s a little bit of a multiplayer component, where you can join massive team battles. It doesn’t change the gameplay, but your end scores count towards the big battle. I joined Team Gangam against Team Funk, who are whupping Gangam soundly, you might like to know. Whoever wins the battle gets a ton of coins, although it seems easy to just jump into a game where the victor has already been decided and rake in the coins. Poor Team Gangam… I tried, I really did.
Shallow, fun, light, but with some addictive gameplay- Funky Smugglers is all you can ask for in a casual game. Worth the buck.
The Final Grade: B-