Pick-up-and-play games are a dime-a-dozen in the App Store. The trick is to finding one that's inexpensive, well made, and will occupy hours of your time without you even knowing it. A game that you're happy to play anytime, even if it's for a minute. Is Mr. Dreamer, a trippy runner game where you make your way through eight different worlds, one of those games? No. No, it is not.

Bored at work, at least according to the main splash page, Poncho and his sidekick Cid enter the world of daydreams to escape the boring mundane life they have working for the Broccoli Co. Poncho runs on a single rail collecting candy. Your goal is to keep Poncho running upright. Tap the screen to determine what side of the line you want Poncho to run on. If he's running upside down then your cloud meter quickly dissipates until you die and have to start over. Collecting candy fills up your cloud meter, but make sure you're running upright when you do it. There's no indication as to how far you are from finishing a world, so just keep playing until you arrive at the goal. Or don't worry about it since the fun factor lasts for about 30 seconds.

Mr. Dreamer's simple gameplay is nice, and the cute graphics and different looking worlds are pleasant to look at. The music in the background is quite charming and sounds like the kind of music that would be playing in your head as you daydream. It's a shame these good qualities all come crashing to a halt when you start playing the game.

Even after a restart and killing all my background apps, Mr. Dreamer ran like crap on my iPhone 4. Frame rate issues were aplenty, the music kept sporadically dropping out and the loading times are atrocious. If you kill the app and start again, you're forced to go through their brief tutorial when you start a new game, even if you've already done it. There's no way to skip it and it's just poor programming. It's not new iPad ready either (only up to iPad2), with no option to zoom out the screen. It runs better on my new iPad, but because it was made for the iPhone and iPad2 the screen is simply too small to play on.

Gamecenter is available but there are no achievements. In fact, there's no real incentive to keep playing the game unless someone deleted Tiny Wings or Jetpack Joyride from your device. There are no trophies when you complete levels, and you have to start all over again if you die. One thing that's puzzling are the four and five star reviews in the App Store for a game with serious lag issues and no replay value. I'm sure updates are coming, but don't release a game that isn't ready. And don't charge money for it if you do. I don't even know why a simple game like this is 65 MB. Maybe 60 of it is being used on loading screens.

Though it has cute graphics and a nice soundtrack, Mr. Dreamer suffers from lag issues, no modes or achievements, and no replay value. It needs a serious update if it wants to compete with other dollar games. The developer stated they were going to provide a Gamecenter update, but that's the least of their worries. I'll happily revisit Mr. Dreamer when an update is available, but for now, playing the game is a real nightmare.


App Store Link: Mr. Dreamer for iPhone & iPad | By eVeek, LLC | Price: $0.99 | Version: 1.0 | 65.8 MB | Rating 4+

3.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating