Smarter Than You Review (iOS)
No one likes to be called dumb, and yet so many of us like to feel smarter than everyone in the room. Enter Smarter Than You. EightyEight Games’ newest creation brings Rock, Paper, Scissors into the modern age with its socially-oriented breed of simple gameplay and humor.
Smarter Than You is, essentially, Rock, Paper, Scissors. You play online against a random person or can play against a friend throughGameCenter. Players take turns choosing one of three moves- Arrow, Attack, Counter. Arrow beats Attack, Attack beats Counter, and Counter beats Arrow.
In addition to choosing an attack, players also assemble sentences out of an offering of semi-randomly selected words. Players can create a very sensible message like, “I always choose Attack,” a completely unrelated sentence like, “This is a small sausage,” or a nonsensical sentence like, “I like to pickles.” Each attack has a numerical value assigned that fluctuates based on what the opponent does and the kind of sentence you create. If you happen to pick the winning move, the numerical value assigned to your attack gets deducted from the opponent’s health. The game continues until someone’s health has been demolished. Smarter Than You is meant to provide strategic, challenging gameplay where you try to out-smart your opponents by reading their messages, looking at their history of moves and the points assigned to each one, then trying to guess what they chose and picking an attack that will beat it. This sounds fine, in theory, but in execution people just pick nonsensical sentences and choose attacks randomly.
There is some fun to be had in creating funny sentences or trying to figure out what the other person has chosen, but there are limitations. Creating sentences from the predetermined words can be amusing when you get things like, “I never trust in spaghetti,” or “Why do birds appear,” but that doesn’t relate to the actual game and makes it impossible for the opponent to make an educated decision on what move to make. “That gives me an advantage,” one might say. Maybe, but when both sides are saying things like, “I am smarter than you,” instead of “Arrow always wins,” it turns the game into a luck of the draw instead of a strategic battle because you have nothing to go on. Also, Smarter Than You's limited vocabulary means that you will quickly see the same sentences over and over again, rendering what enjoyment or meaning they may have provided into nothingness.
Smarter Than You's execution of its online gaming is also problematic. Initially, you can have up to five games going at once, which may sound like a lot, but in reality, other players can keep you hanging for as long as they like. There's no timer forcing them to make a move, and no option to end a match in the middle of a game, so if someone’s taking too long you could potentially have all five games stalled, leaving you unable to play at all.
Players level up through experience, unlocking cute things like extra facial expressions, different colors, country flags, and some bling. These are much needed extras considering the plainly simplistic graphics of the game. Each player is a smiley face, the background is white, and there’s nothing else to look at. On the plus side, Smarter Than You is free to play without any sort of in-game ads or DLC to purchase. Instead, EightyEight Games hopes to make money based off of the "Tip" function; through it, you pay anywhere from $1-3 and your challenger gets extra experience points as a "tip" for playing a great match. While it’s unique and awesome that we aren’t bombarded with prompts to buy things, this seems like a terrible way to try to make money. Even after numerous matches we have neither seen a single tip from an opponent, nor felt compelled to tip any of them.
If you like simple games with simpler interfaces and the occasional opportunity to come up with a strategy, you might just enjoy Smarter Than You... or you might get bored after a few minutes and delete the dang thing. Smarter Than You's base idea is certainly fun, but its execution needs a lot of work to make it anything other than a brief time-waster barely worth the efforts it takes to download it.
This review is based on a download of Smarter Than You for iOS.