iBailout!! iPhone game strange political satire

May 9, 2010
Games

As political satire, iBailout!! ($1.99) is sort of confusing, but as an iPhone app, it’s a clever imitation of Pac-Man that, while fun, falls slightly short of being a must-own iPhone game.  As a game alone, iBailout!! basically has all of the hallmarks of classic Pac-Man game play. You play as the Federal Reserve, a hulking “Transformers”-esque […]

As political satire, iBailout!! ($1.99) is sort of confusing, but as an iPhone app, it’s a clever imitation of Pac-Man that, while fun, falls slightly short of being a must-own iPhone game. 

As a game alone, iBailout!! basically has all of the hallmarks of classic Pac-Man game play. You play as the Federal Reserve, a hulking “Transformers”-esque walking building that gobbles up stacks of money while being chased by an angry mob of taxpayers. Much like the power-ups in Pac-Mac allowed you to temporarily eat ghosts, there are rifles that allow you to run through and “eat” the taxpayer to get them off of your back. There are also items strewn throughout the stages that function as bonuses, just like pieces of fruit worked in Pac-Man. 

Unfortunately, the touch screen is not the most precise method for this style of game. While you can play by finger-swiping or tilting, finger-swiping is by far the preferred method. Even swiping, you’ll find controls can be a little stiff when you need them to react the most. You’re able to “pre-load” a turn, so you can swipe up a few seconds before you need to go up, and your “Fed-Man” will move up just in time, but there are times when a quick decision needs to be rendered and you’ll find yourself stuck against a wall for a second too long. It’s less a problem with the iPhone game and more an issue with playing Pac-Man on a touch screen. 

Visually, the color palette is a little weak. Mostly focused on greens and grays, things seem a little too jagged and disjointed. This is not one of better looking apps at all. Difficulty is a problem, as well. If the controls weren’t a hassle, this would be a very easy game of Pac-Man. The taxpayers will follow you in a straight line, even if there are a dozen of them and multiple paths to take, so outwitting them comes down to simply turning at the right times and outrunning your enemy, which doesn’t make for the most enjoyable experience. 

As satire, this is sort of confusing. Shouldn’t The Fed be dispersing money to big companies, not just eating it all? Maybe it’s like a New Yorker cartoon and I just don’t get it. It’s happened before. Either way, there are little skits in between levels that add a little levity to the proceedings, but I could take or leave them. Mostly, this is second-rate Pac-Man all the way. It’s not bad, it’s just hard to recommend when the real deal is sitting out there.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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