Super Flippin Phones Review
Fast, responsive controls
Clean visual aesthetic
Well-employed risk-reward elements
All too repetitive music loops
Nobody thinks twice about a one-note joke. Nobody needs to. Super Flippin’ Phones’ meager one-liner about smartphone trends didn’t evoke even a chuckle from me but, luckily, wasn’t loud enough to get in the way of its inviting mechanics and playful nuances. Successor to Blueprint and 3xBlast’s quite similar Flippin’ Phones (2014), Super Flippin’ Phones brings us much-improved and overall great retro-inspired visuals and pure arcadey fun and flare but too little variety in terms of visuals and music.
In case you didn’t notice, everyone at the mall has their eyes glued to their smartphone or at least it seems so. Now imagine if a hobo were to run riot through Macy’s or Neiman Marcus, knocking phones out of everyone’s hands. Haha. What then? That’s about it. Super Flippin’ Phones utilizes this catchy but shallow social commentary to give their game some initial pop and, after some consideration, that’s quite alright by me. Actual gameplay neither reiterates the premise to a point of annoyance nor wholly relies on its meme-ability to move forward like Goat Simulator, Nyan Cat games, and so many others. Taking the joke a step further with an iOS and Android port could bring that extra “meta” to earn a full chuckle. The controls are simple enough and, frankly, the game holds up better played in small bursts than full hours so it could be great, but I digress.
Using only WASD, you must guide your hobo on a rampage as he wildly flails his arms, knocking phones out of the hands of so many unsuspecting smartphone zombies in his path. Doing so “hips them” to his freewheeling lifestyle, inspiring a legion to follow his every step and inciting the wrath of countless mall officers, police dogs, and undercover cops. In addition to flipping phones, our hobo can slap cops and dogs out of his way, given he has enough stamina. Stamina depletes as players leap over or slap cops and replenishes slowly while running and quickly while standing still. Get caught standing still or with low stamina and it’s game over.
Followers must be turned in at the hobo’s cardboard box in exchange for points. The larger your following, the greater the reward per evacuee. Get caught before turning in any followers, however, and you’ll come out empty handed. Whether scoring in the hundreds-of-thousands or zero, this arcadey implementation of risk-reward elements essentially won me over, tempting me to push my luck over and over again. Controls are responsive enough for quick turns and last second getaways and the runner’s pace of gameplay perfectly maintained the excitement.
Gameplay’s mostly intuitive though the game could’ve used a dedicated tutorial instead of its halting tutorial prompts. Tutorial prompts pause the flow of gameplay whenever players run into something new, taking control away from the player and diminishing the feeling of discovery. It comes off as sloppy and gets annoying, especially since it brings the otherwise fast game to a full stop.
High enough scores unlock additional game modes which feature a greater variety of obstacles. For instance, the League of Extraordinary Police difficulty adds an officer on stilts and one with a riot shield to the mix, both of which have their own simple but complementary solutions: riot shields knock you backward and need to be vaulted over while stilt cops require you to jump to slap them, eating up more stamina than the usual mall cop. Randomly placed giant gift-box drops contain a variety of quirky costumes like underpants only, caped wrestler, and moustache man. They add a good bit of visual variety to gameplay and give players something to work for other than achievements.
I found the overall package to be entertaining but too limited in scope and production to keep longer play sessions feeling fresh. For instance, you spend the entire game in multi-level malls, rioting to the sound of only a few peppy but short tracks. The tracks themselves aren’t so great to begin with and wore out for me after only a few runs. While the enemy variety and core gameplay loop are exciting, the game world begins to feel monotone early on, especially since it can take some time to unlock new levels. In the earliest level for example, the restaurant part of the mall has its own theme and color scheme but the rest of the mall lacks anything remarkable. A few more explicitly detailed shops within the mall, more locations varying in layout and size, and just more of everything could’ve done a lot to keep the world feeling lively.
The “good,” in a way, is as “good, honest fun” as it gets. Gameplay is addictively challenging and mechanically concise and there’s little if any pretension behind the game’s premise – honestly, knowing nothing about the title before playing, I went in expecting to be bludgeoned over the head with commentary about Generation Z. Although currently lacking in content and variety but considering its $3.00 launch price, Super Flippin’ Phones is well worth its value because it’s straight up fun. Some content support post-launch could help the game become a sure winner though developers have yet to formally announce future plans, if any. I also feel it worth reiterating that I believe the game would excel on mobile platforms: it’s perfect for quick pick-up-and-play and perhaps better suited to thrive in that context than in formal, sit-down desktop sessions. Let’s hope we see a few content updates post-launch and – fingers crossed – a mobile port down the road.