"A Golden Age of Licensed Cartoon Games"
The old rule of thumb that video games based on licensed movies and TV are terrible seems to be less and less true these days. At least in the mobile games market, publishers have been able to produce small but surprisingly entertaining apps based on the intellectual properties they're given. Most of these titles are made by bolting franchises onto proven games, such as Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots or Temple Run: Brave. But sometimes a mobile game based on a children's cartoon can be a quality experience even without relying on an existing engine. A good example is Mutant Fridge Mayhem - Gumball, a surprisingly fun title based on The Amazing World of Gumball.
Fans of the old side-scrolling beat-'em-ups like Final Fight and Double Dragon should find Mutant Fridge Mayhem - Gumball's gameplay charmingly familiar. You play as the blue cartoon kitten Gumball as he defends his household from mutant foodstuffs spawned from his refrigerator. With the help of his pink rabbit sister Anais and his walking goldfish friend Darwin, Gumball has to survive a timed onslaught of foodstuffs each level. I should note that I have never seen The Amazing World of Gumball, so I have no idea how a fish can suddenly develop legs, or how a blue cat and a pink rabbit can be siblings. Of course, in the era of Spongebob Squarepants, western animation has seen far stranger things.
Though the premise of Mutant Fridge Mayhem - Gumball is simple, the execution is surprisingly effective. Controls work far better than most touch screen emulations of physical controls; dragging the left side of the screen moves your character, and tapping the right side executes an attack. The right screen also has some icons for special moves and character swapping, allowing the player to instantly switch characters à la Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse. The characters play similarly, but they do have some differences between them in terms of attack direction, power, and speed, and knowing what attacks to use, adding a welcome wrinkle of strategy to the design.
Granted, it's only a small wrinkle of strategy to what's basically a straightforward beat-'em-up. Mutant Fridge Mayhem - Gumball's gameplay still comes down to moving away from enemy punches while delivering as many hits as you can, but it's a good straightforward beat-'em-up, and it can even be enjoyed by adults who aren't fans of The Amazing World of Gumball. It might even get said adults to watch said show; I know I now have that inclination.
GameDynamo's Score for Mutant Fridge Mayhem - Gumball (Mobile)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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