When a game version of the beloved movie "The Princess Bride" arrives out of the blue, my fellow writers and I crank the pun machine to maximum:
"A 'Princess Bride' game for iOS? As you wish."
"Never go up against a Sicilian when a save game is on the line!"
"I've spent the last few years of my life building up an immunity to iOS."
"MINIGAMES. MINIGAMES is what bewings us together today."
"Can you still play it if your phone's battery is mostly dead?"
I know, I know: we should be writing for television! Anyway, The Princess Bride - The Official Game ($3.99, £2.99, AU$4.99) just arrived for iOS, begging any number of questions. First one: "Why?" Second: "Why now?" And, finally: "Judging from the horrendous cartoon artwork alone, can this game possibly be any good?"
I'll confess I never, ever thought of the movie as great fodder for a game, so I have no idea why this came to be. And given that the movie debuted in 1987, it's not like we're celebrating a big anniversary this year -- so I don't understand the timing, either.
I can tell you that the game consists of four mini-games based on classic "Princess Bride" scenes. In the first, you have to save Princess Buttercup from the Shrieking Eels. Then it's onto climbing the Cliffs of Insanity, sword-fighting with the Man in Black, and wrestling a certain language-challenged giant.
I played the first three -- and that was enough. The Shrieking Eels game involves little more than tapping the heads of attacking eels before they reach Buttercup, who remains in the center of the screen. Between waves you hear a little sound bite from the movie, but otherwise it's a tedious exercise -- and a required one. Because you need to earn at least one star if you want to unlock the second game.
In that one, you dodge falling rocks, protruding cliffs, and swooping seagulls as you climb to Buttercup's rescue. But the deck is so stacked against you; occasionally a seagull just flies right at you, with no way to avoid it, and bam: you're dead.
I did like the sword-fighting game, in part because I like Fruit Ninja -- and that's exactly what this is: Fruit Ninja with flying swords.
Although the game costs $3.99, it incorporates various freemium-style elements: You get five Miracle Pills that let you continue a level from where you left off, but after that they'll run you $1.99 for 20. You also have the option of spending another 99 cents to unlock all of the games. I wouldn't mind this quite so much if I hadn't already dropped four bucks.
Meanwhile, the "awards" you win along the way consist of various audio clips from the movie, but on my iPhone, no amount of tapping would get them to actually play. This feature is flat-out broken, a pretty major gaffe considering this is a 1.1 release.
My advice is if you want to enjoy "The Princess Bride," stick with the movie.