Frozen Free Fall: Snowball Fight Review
This so-called "Freemium" game has had a home on mobile for a while now. As a bastion for boredom-killing, the mobile device finds it's use in the most awkward of places. People will play from the toilet, riding public transportation, or generally waiting for others to be done with whatever, the cash is made by the game having that power over you to satiate boredom. Now, Frozen Free Fall, one of the more popular freemium match-3 games these days, has slid over onto consoles, and you can download this freebie on your PS4 or Xbox One.
I've enjoyed match-3 games in the past. Candy Crush made it's run around my family, and I even got to review a few mobile variations back at GoozerNation, such as Scurvy Scallywags. I know they aren't all identical, but they often share some very common traits, and Frozen doesn't stray far from the norm. We've got our life system that makes us wait if we run out, hourglasses to add time to levels based around that mechanic, and varying levels of powerups, clearing out one to three rows, columns, or simply elimination of one entire gem type. The levels change shape as you go on as well, from basic rectangles to varying patterns of squares for the gems to flow through. All this is part and parcel for such a game. I do particularly like how you can constantly be moving gems: they may move quickly, but you can be setting up your next move whilst the cascade is still falling from the last turn.
Where Frozen varies from the norm is the chance to play multiplayer. A timed two-player exclusive, building enough points up results in your character throwing a snowball at your opponent. If they make enough points during the warning time, they can dodge, but if not, a direct hit results. This adds up a counter, highest score wins. Quite basic, but kind of neat for a match-3 enthusaist to really test their mettle against a real-life opponent. Plus, without the hassles of the bare-bones story mode, you can step away from microtransactions.
Microtransactions, are, of course one of my big beefs with this game. It's designed around them so impeccably. Every time you find a new power up, it conveniently makes the level require it so you can see the usefulness. There's no way to beat the level they introduce the hourglass to you in time, but that free power up they give you makes it perfect, throwing the craving for more at you. The pause menu defaults the cursor to the store, and the (exhaustible) power-up packs run from $5 to $50, with the auto-unlock of all the characters (which can come through normal game play) ringing in at $19.99. Honestly, it made me a little scared of turning the controller over to my kids, who are the target audience. They've never cared about the PS Store before, to where I don't even bother having it ask for my password on checkout. So, whilst I didn't test this (the store lets you highlight items, but doesn't say "go to store" or "click this and you buy it", so I didn't want to risk it), I'm concerned I could end up spending money I don't want, and I shouldn't have to change my security on my entire PS4 for the sake of one freemium game.
Second, there's a monotony to the game. If you are in solo mode, the music never changes. Not even between levels and maps. Just keeps going. Characters have no voice work, nor sound effects for anything they do. This results in Anna being more Vanna (White) as she giggles and makes grand gestures at the board over and over before giving quiet applause at your victory.
My third beef with the game kind of clinches it for me: using a controller on an originally touchscreen based game. I might see the next move that I'd have touched with my opposite thumb when it was on my phone, but here I have to traverse the board with my cursor, click on the gem, and push it in the right direction. This gets particularly frustrating when the gems are randomized on a time-based board, or if you go too fast and push a gem in the wrong direction, and have to turn around and click back just to get to it. It's not intuitive, which is necessary for a game like this.
If you're a hardcore match-3 gamer who can't go without trying every one, you already know what you're going into: a game that may be fun for a while, but you WILL hit a ceiling of frustration. Sadly, that happened only 16 levels in for me (the aforementioned first "timed" level). Pros may get further, but it will happen. The multiplayer is good fun, but not terribly deep. If you are a fan of the license, I'm sure you won't want to let it go, either. But in the end, on a mobile device, temptation will set in and the ease of buying a few recharges is very easy. Over on my PS4, though, when I ran out of lives or power ups, it was all too tempting to hit that center PS button and go play a game I paid good money for.
A review copy was offered to The Gamers Lounge by the developer.
Final Review Score: 2/5