Friday Slide: On The Cutting Room Floor

Every day, Slide To Play receives dozens of new iPhone games to review. The sheer volume is staggering– it’s unlike anything I’ve experienced in four years of writing about and reviewing videogames. Today I’ll take you behind the scenes of our highly-classified editorial process to show you what does and doesn’t make the cut.

We solicit new reviews through our Games email, which developers can find through our Contact page. Every day Tim, Chris, or I will comb through our submissions, adding new codes and making a master list of potential games to review or cover. With so many submissions every day, anything that helps us make a decision about a game’s viability on the front page of STP, like a well-produced Youtube trailer, will garner extra attention.

But our full reviews take a lot of time and effort. I insist that our reviewers make an effort to complete the entire game, or unlock all the content, before making a final judgment. After all, you wouldn’t think much of Roger Ebert if he watched the first half of a movie before giving it a thumbs up or thumbs down, would you?

As a result, we can’t give every game we find a full review, as much as we’d like to. There’s simply not enough time in the world for our staff. A few weeks ago we started a new feature called New App A Day, which offers a first look at a newly-released title. This New App A Day, or NAAD as we call it, gives us a chance to determine if we should follow up with a review and gauge our readers’ interest in a game.

But that’s just one game, and we’ve got dozens to choose from every day. Here are some of the oddball titles that for whatever reason, didn’t seem to be worth the front-page treatment.

Rack Stare

Rack Stare is the very definition of a novelty game. You play as a desperate gawker who has to stare at the pretty lady sitting next to him without getting noticed. Using some impressive full-motion video, you can control the gawker by pressing down on the screen. At the right moment, you have to let go and innocuously turn away. Although this game plays itself out in about three minutes, it actually has OpenFeint so all your friends can feel sorry for you.

SpermKiller HD

Now this one is just gross. You have to fire a condom gun to keep individual sperm and (according to the App Store description) ‘their friends’ the viruses from reaching the right side of the iPad’s screen. Whose bright idea was it to fire off microscopic condoms, instead of just, say, one big condom that goes on the outside? The whole idea of this super-invasive form of birth control just makes us all squiggy.

Ant Smasher

Unless you’re afraid of bugs, this game is a lot less disturbing than the two listed above. But as you might be able to tell from the screenshot, there’s just not a lot to this game. Ants will crawl onto your iPhone, and you have to smoosh them with your fingers. If enough of them reach the lovely picnic spread at the bottom of the screen, you lose. What else is there to say about this game, in a full review or any other format? Nothing.

Linkin Park Revenge

Ok, we enjoy the Tap Tap Revenge games, but at this point, they’re really all starting to blend together in our minds. It was barely two weeks ago that Katy Perry got her Revenge, and Linkin Park already has their own iPhone game. Plus, how do you review a music game that is nearly identical to every other game in the series? You probably know already whether a Linkin Park rhythm game is something you want to buy.

That’s just a taste of what we see every day. The App Store has heaps of games, and many of them are mediocre, but due to the law of averages there are also hundreds of excellent, high quality games buried in there. We’ll continue to pick out the gems and present them to you for your consideration– it’s a challenge for us, but a fun one. Our free GameFinder app is one great way we can present you with clean, neat lists of the very best games you haven’t discovered yet, so check that out if you haven’t yet.

And if you’re a developer, take heart– you may be facing an unheard-of level of competition on the App Store, but we’re a team of professional reviewers who are keeping an eye out for quality. If your game is great, we’ll find it, and share it with the world.

Andrew Podolsky is the Editor in Chief of Slide to Play.