iOS App-Aholics Anonymous: [Cracking Sands]

App Name: Cracking Sands
Developer: Polarbit
Launch Date: 1-24-13
Price: $4.99 / €3.74
App-Aholic Rating: 3.6 / 5

Everyone loves Mario. Everyone loves go-carts. So naturally, everyone loves Mario and his brigade of friends driving go-carts. While this game has nothing to do with our favorite Italian plumber, Cracking Sands does take advantage of the trails already blazed by Mario Kart by introducing their own cart racer with its own spin. Consider this like Mario Kart amped with some modern (but not excessive) violence. Anytime you replace friendly turtle shell projectiles with live-action machine guns, circumstances are bound to get interesting, right?

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The Gist: The mechanics of Cracking Sands are pretty simple. This is a cart racer, so you will obviously be piloting a vehicle of some sort. On the screen, you have three virtual buttons that do various things. On the left is a jump switch that will help you hop over small obstacles or jump over enemy gunfire. On the right, the switch near the south end is for momentary speed boost, while the north button is to initiate your own gunfire to nearby enemies. (Sadly, shooting at a player or being shot at will not blow any of the said players to smithereens. Your vehicle will simply be slowed down long enough to be passed by the aggressor.) Of course, the longevity of a speed boost or a machine gun cannot be infinite; they both share a meter at the very top of the screen. Once you run out, you cannot boost any longer, and your gun will operate at a crippled pace. In order to keep the meter filled, you should consider picking up the little blue targets or running over the electrical pads for regenerative purposes. Oh, and finally, there is no gas pedal to move your vehicle, nor is there a brake to stop it, so you’d best keep heading in a forward direction.

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1) Appearance: 1/1; Grade A graphics are a welcomed sight in mobile gaming. From just a glance, Polarbit did well to contribute a lot of attention to Cracking Sands’ appearance. The vibrant artistry definitely catches the eye. Unfortunately, it’s all about what the rest of your senses experience once the initial reaction is made.

2) Audio: 0.5/1; For the most part, the audio provided is decent. The game opens with a groovy guitar riff. Unfortunately, this same riff/song is provided throughout the rest of your gaming experience with little to no variation included. As for the racing experience, the sounds of the revving vehicles and their firing machine guns and electrical traps are realistic, these noises effortlessly drown out the music during gameplay. Since Polarbit decided to stream the tune on repeat, maybe this was the result they desired. If so, kudos in that regard!

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3) Playability: 0.5/1; Mobile device technology is great with all the different sensors and capabilities they come with. I give credit to any developer willing to use the accelerometer (and effectively) as a means of controlling the game. That said, not everyone (myself included) prefers the accelerometer over virtual touchscreen controls. Cracking Sands only provides one means of game operation, and I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t the one I like. Games these days, especially on mobile devices, deserve to be versatile in the way they provide the gaming experience. Flexibility is part of mobile gaming’s appeal, after all.

4) Stability: 1/1; A stable game is a happy game, even if it’s kinda boring. In my short run, I didn’t experience any major or minor issues with gaming operations. Polarbit reigns with flying colors in this instance.

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5) Value:0.6/1; A game of this caliber, even without its above-mentioned flaws could easily sell for a dollar on the AppStore. I could even justify $1.99, maybe $2.99. Now, I know, considering the price of console games, $4.99 is still considered cheap, but on the mobile scene (where games are often short and not as complex), $4.99+ begins to tread on what a gamer would expect for higher-quality material. In the case of Cracking Sands in the state it’s delivered, the price is too steep to fully justify the finished product. If you’re interested in Cracking Sands, I would wait for the $0.99 sale, or at least a software update, before purchasing.

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iOSA3 Rating: 3.6/5; Cracking Sands is a decent idea that simply suffered from lack of execution. The gameplay definitely could’ve been more complex. Really, the highest point is probably the beautiful graphics, but that’s only a small piece of what makes a game terrific. Maybe Cracking Sands will be worth it’s bloated price tag, but for now, I wish I’d kept my $4.99 in my bank account. What can I say? We live, we learn.

Sound Off: Now, folks, it’s your turn! Do you have any thoughts, opinions, or general comments about Cracking Sands and/or its developer, Polarbit? I personally reply to every comment, and I’d love to hear what you have to say! Just take your cranial debris and throw it down in the box below!

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