IDG Entertainment’s Bobby Carrot Forever is the latest in a long line of mobile puzzle games starring the affable cartoon rabbit, and it may very well be the series’ crowning achievement. It demonstrates a very high level of achievement in both art direction and puzzle design, and even though it seems expensive, it’s actually a pretty fantastic value–provided that you’re dogged enough to keep throwing yourself at the game’s tough challenges, of course. Not everyone will be.
You see, Bobby Carrot Forever’s hard-nosed gameplay belies its lush, kiddie-friendly exterior. Yes, Bobby’s searching for magical Golden Carrots across six dream realms of ten levels each, and yes, the game abounds with pastel clouds and beautifully animated meadows… but it’s designed to break you into pieces nonetheless. At first, it may not seem so mean. All Bobby needs to do to exit a level is pick up a certain number of carrots, and the first few levels are a basic tutorial to introduce you to all the things you’ll encounter along the way. All of the typical puzzle game elements are here–moving platforms, switches, death traps, icy surfaces, and convayer belts–and there are many less common ones too, such as beanstalks, fans, fire-breathing dragons, and hang-gliders. The riding mower is a puzzle game first in our experience, but hey, it’s kind of fun, just like in real life.
The real tough stuff begins towards the end of the first realm, when the level designers start to recombine these things into cul-de-sacs and complex multi-step tasks. A lot of the puzzle pieces only work when you put two halves together; for instance, the mower needs a gas can to run, and you have to pick up a shovel before you can dig your way through dirt barriers. After a little practice, you’ll be able see many different possible approaches to each level, but you’ll quickly find that these exist only to tempt you into screwing up. The obvious paths are very rarely correct, and there’s no recovering from your mistakes. A single misstep requires a level restart.
Needless to say, we gave the restart button a healthy workout during the course of our review. Accessing the menu (and the all-important kill switch) requires you to tilt your iPhone from landscape to portrait, which bugged us to no end, and we also found the bird’s-eye-view function to be less useful than we’d like, because the graphics become very small–we would have preferred a moveable camera. The game measures your performance by timing each level and counting the number of steps it takes you to finish it, but we couldn’t figure out where this data’s deposited, or how to replay a single level to try to beat your score.
As we’ve said before, we’re a huge fan of Bobby Carrot Forever’s superbly polished presentation, which goes above and beyond the call of duty for a typical puzzle game. Every square inch of the game is bursting with color and animation, and Bobby has a very definite personality of his own, too. He actually ambles more than he walks, and he’ll tap his foot impatiently if you start daydreaming. The music’s fairly catchy too. This is one game you might actually want to listen to in lieu of your iPod, which is good, because you can’t.
Overall, we think that Bobby Carrot Forever’s meant for a very specific kind of puzzle gamer–namely, the kind that doesn’t get frustrated with levels that take two hours and dozens of replays to beat! Those people probably won’t need to buy another game for weeks. DON’T buy this game for your kid, or if you’re not up for a serious challenge.