Review: Kickin Momma

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Leveraging the deep fiction and back story of its earlier downloadable game Swarm, Hothead Games now delivers a new downloadable game for your iOS device of choice. (The universal HD version is $3.99, and the standard SD iPhone version is $1.99) While this review is based on the HD version of the game designed for iPad, I did mess around with the standard definition version for one map, and the games seem to be the same basic thing.  The only question is whether you’ll want Momma in your lap or in the palm of your hand.
 
Momma is a gigantic Swarmite who is walking down the street one day and sees a ruby necklace in a jewelry store window that she thinks would look divine and is totally in season.  Unfortunately, as a naked, blue, apparently genderless, vaguely humanoid blob, she has neither the pockets to store money to purchase the source of her desire nor the credit necessary to procure such an item.  This makes Momma sad.  The fact that she has no neck does not seem to deter her, nor does her status as an inhuman abomination. No, just the money issue.  Fortunately, there are a bunch of gems scattered around three worlds for her taking.  Given the amount of gems to collect, it is possible that Momma may at some point have lost track of her initial goal.

The game progresses from one stage to the next with Momma knocking red gems to the bottom of the screen by kicking other, smaller swarmites to dislodge them from their fixed places in the air.  One might ask why Momma just doesn’t use her comparative hugeness to go get them herself, and the answer comes back, “Because then it would not be a game.”  While there are three worlds, and the promise of more with a forthcoming in-app purchase, the only  difference amongst the worlds is the background art.  From level to level, the meaningful differences are the patterns of pegs scattered throughout the screen as well as where the gems are positioned. 
 
Comparisons to Peggle are on point.  Players will trace out the approximate trajectory of the “ball”, hit the big “kick” button, and then watch the curled-up, flying blue guy bounce around, hitting one peg after another and hopefully dislodging a few gems.  Anything hit will disappear after the guy hits the ground and cannot help or hinder Momma’s next kick.  The more pegs that are hit, the better the score, and the better the rating at the end of the level.  Some color coded pegs will take two hits to remove, some will make every point scored in that kick worth double, and others grant a multiball. There are no special power ups or anything to mix things up; just Momma, kicking and trying to get a better score.  Ultimately, there are no abilities allowing a different way to complete a level.  There are ten gems in every level, a set number that is required to advance, and a bonus for any unused swarmites.  There is a theoretical best sequence of kicks that can be done.  The goal is to get as close to that perfect kick as is possible.
 
The game does display a fair amount of polish in its presentation.  Momma is a cute blobby thing that seems to be happy and excited just about all the time.  She’ll dance and cheer after a particularly good shot, and she will playfully bounce a flying blue dude back into play if it hits her big stomach.  One refinement that is noteworthy is a small magnified image that shows where the ball will hit first after it is launched.  Around the small image are arrows that can be used to fine tune the shot.  This is very useful, as how a blue dude hits a peg will effect the direction that he will fly to a large degree.  What happens after that bounce is usually difficult to predict.  The main appeal of these peg bouncing games is to see all the random scores and pegs that can be hit after the button is pressed, things you never saw coming. 
 
If you want another pachinko-like game for your phone or tablet, this is one.  It is fun to take one kick in between sending emails by using Apple’s version of alt-tabbing, but in long sessions this game will wear thin.  Ultimately, this is a forgettable game.  There is one mode and nothing to spice the gameplay up.  If you collect enough gems in the levels, you can make Momma look silly with various unlockables, such as a mustache stolen from the Pringles corporation or clunky boots.  There are also a bunch of achievements to work at, including the insane “Get all ten jewels in one kick” amongst the more banal ones based upon getting a high score.  But you can say that about a lot of games, and so if you are not into metascores, there is no reason to keep this app kickin’ on your device for very long.
 
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Pros:
+ Fun game to play in short bursts
+ Plenty of unlockables and achievements

Cons:
– Not a ton of levels
– No variety in gameplay, just different level layouts

Game Info:
Platform: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch
Publisher: Hothead Games
Developer: Hothead Games
Release Date: 8/4/2011
Genre: Puzzle
Age Rating: 9+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher. HD app purchased by reviewer.

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About the Author

Steve has been playing video games since the start of the 1980s. While the first video game system he played was his father's, an Atari 2600, he soon began saving allowances and working for extra money every summer to afford the latest in interactive entertainment. He is keenly aware of how much it stinks to spend good money on a bad game. It does things to a man. It makes stink way too much time into games like Karnov to justify the purchase.