I've downloaded enough free iOS titles on my iPad to keep me satisfied, so the $4.99 price tag for Little Inferno was a bit hefty upon first glance. Nearly five bucks for a fireplace game where all you do is throw stuff and watch it burn? Absolutely not. I carried this narrow minded prejudice up until I actually played the game, and within seconds my opinions had drastically changed for the better.

Don't let the simple premise fool you. Although the objective is to keep your fireplace busy by throwing whatever item you can get your pyromaniac hands on, Little Inferno, which was previously released on the PC and Wii U, is a total breath of fresh air. Although that match in the title screen is set to possibly destroy, that very same image symbolizes the genesis of an idea that, once it catches on, will spread like wildfire. If an in his prime Tim Burton was directing a twisted fireplace film written by the Coen Bros., Little Inferno would be their love child.

The premise centers on a solitary being whose sole directive is to light random items on fire. To start up your fireplace, hold a finger down on your device until a flame arises. As you collect coins for burning certain items, you must purchase more objects to burn. Once a fateful combination of two objects are destroyed, gamers unlock a special combo which will yield them stamps and, more importantly send them closer to a whole different world of creatures, food, explosives, game consoles, and magnetic devices. Stamps are also valuable, as they speed up the items' availability.

Although the game starts with a simple warning telling us not to play with fire, this is far from a sensitive, politically correct title. During the first level, which is named Chimney Stuffer, you can buy batteries, corn on the cob, and a television set to start a fire. Also available for the right amount of coins -- a busload filled with kids! Put the bus in your chimney, strike a match, and listen to the children scream as they're burnt to a crisp! I didn't have the heart to actually show the burning, but here's the yellow bus and a spider for good measure.

Your only contact with the outside world are in letters sent to you by Sugar Plumps and a dude named The Weather Man. Although the climate reports are a bit boring, Sugar Plumps co-dependance and unpredictable behavior give her correspondence a huge edge over The Weather Man. Their letters can also be thrown into the fire, and even though they are just quick messages, they add even more texture to the game. And if anyone asks, those cosmic particles belong to the next guy.

Even though each section has a varying theme, some combos are created by joining two objects from different levels. Along with unlocking these combos, a great deal of the game's enjoyment, along with its wicked sense of humor, comes from watching everything burn. I may sound like a Joker addicted to Gotham, but until you hear a Valkyrie Doll sing her final aria or wave goodbye to a doomed oil barge, don't judge.

Armed with a truckload of sarcasm and moxie, Little Inferno is that rare game that you really don't want to finish. One hopes that the game's developers keep those fires burning with future updates.


App Store Link: Little Inferno for iPad | By Experimental Gameplay Group | Price: $4.99 | Version: 1.0.1 | 101 MB | Rating 12+
8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating