Coin Army is a strange little arcade game from Chillingo and Crazy Monkey Studios. It is based on coin-dozer machines you'd find at a boardwalk arcade, where the primary goal is to add to a pile of coins on a platform. If you're lucky enough, the dozer in the back will push everything forward and cause an avalanche of coins for you to collect. Is Coin Army lucky enough to be worthy of your attention?
I used to frequent arcades when I was younger, back when arcades were sort of a thing. There was skee-ball, tower stacking, and electronic roulette machines that flashed and beckoned passersby to relinquish their tokens. Now, I have no discernible skill when it comes to these games and there was one type of game in particular that destroyed any semblance of patience within me. And of course, it was the coin dozer. I thought it was ludicrous that developers would actually want to transport the horrifying, token-demolishing experience onto mobile devices.
But I found solace in the fact that I wasn't betting any of my real money (unless I wanted to pay for more coins) and started playing Coin Army. The premise is simple: flick coins from a first-person perspective at the soldiers, tanks, and planes to destroy them. The coins will either disappear or slide forward onto the metal platform in front of you. The aim is to pile up the coins so that the dozer sends them over the edge, replenishing your stock equal to the number of coins that fall.
It is incredibly simple, which is a good thing for a mobile game. The graphics are equally simple, providing a decent 3D environment that pays homage to the arcade machines that inspire it. There are a few sound effects that mostly consist of the swiping noise when you flick a coin, the clinking that follows when it hits, and then an explosion if your target is destroyed. The music is ... well, I don't really want to use the word "whimsical", but it sounds like something you'd hear if you were waiting in line for The Cat in the Hat Ride at Universal Studios.
For every officer you destroy, you get an automatic spin on the slot reels above the action. If you line up three of the same icons, a prize will drop down onto the platform. These prizes can either be more coins or any of the unlockable power-ups that you gain by leveling up. The power-ups include nukes, death rays, and multi-shots. Gaining these powers involves either a lot of coins or a lot of time. The leveling progression's pace is like molasses unless you can string together flawless hit combos. The easiest way to do this is by maxing out the Frenzy meter to do extra damage to targets.
Coin Army is actually fun in short bursts, but you'll find that you may not get anywhere in the game unless you play long sessions that focus on hitting combos and raising your coin count. And what's with the ads? The game gifts you with a single coin every half minute or so during play and every few minutes when you're away. If you're impatient, you can always buy more coins with real money. It's possible to never run out of coins, but you'll have to be very skilled and devote a lot of time to hitting the same three or four targets. Ultimately, the fun factor wasn't enough to win me over, but Coin Army at least allayed my fears when it came to these kinds of electronic carny games.