Beetle Breaker is the latest free to play app from Chillingo, a publisher known for their array of addicting apps. They may not shoot for the stars when it comes to epic narratives, but most of the games under their line are definitely worth the download. Beetle Breaker places us in the world of insects, where our heroes unleash a world of destruction before their demise.
The goal of each level is to use your beetles to obliterate your chosen target. By tapping on the slingshot, and dragging your finger, you will fire your insect into harm's way. Depending on how accurately you meet certain objectives, each stage can earn you up to three stars, currency, and possible diamonds. With a certain amount of beetles at your disposal, their job is to blow almost 100% of the object into kingdom come. Failure to meet these objects will require you to restart the level.
This physics puzzler isn't just a one-dimensional slingshot adventure, as strategy is an important part of clearing the stage. Bomber beetles will explode on impact by tapping them, so placing them around the object's critical mass is important. Other beetles will split apart when you tap them, and although they're not as powerful as the bombers, they'll do damage at different sections of your target.
The true drawbacks are the ads that will pop up after you complete certain stages. Even though you can close out of the window, having a promo flash before you is still a distraction. One of the advertisements was a commercial I couldn't close out of, which increased the app's annoying factor.
As you progress, the puzzles are harder to complete, as obstructions will block the once clear path to your goal. You may need to purchase more beetles with your currency to complete a stage or spin a wheel of fortune to grab an upgrade or perk to aid your mission. Once you run out of gold or diamonds, you can either make an in-app purchase or just try to beat the stage on your own merits.
The app's saving grace is its game play. Whether bouncing them off the side of your device at an angle or choosing the right beetle to clear the level, there were enough intriguing elements to keep me intrigued by this puzzler. The idea of beetles flinging themselves on a suicide mission is also a bold creative decision, since a hero's journey usually doesn't end in self-immolation. Of course, any gamer searching for profound themes in a Chillingo title probably needs a therapist.
Even with the freemium distraction, Beetle Breaker succeeds is a solid puzzler whose entertainment value amplifies if you dig the game's slingshot mechanic. Flinging these intrepid to their deaths may satiate a gamer's more sadistic instincts, but give credit to these little buggers. Whether they're off on a bombing run or accidentally smashing into a brick wall, they've got a pretty tough gig. I may not buy in-app premiums to help their cause, but as long as my slingshot still works, I'm more than willing to send them to insect heaven.