It’s happened to us all: you’re driving along, and you see a vanity plate with an ambiguous meaning– something like GR8TMS. Does that mean ‘great times’ or ‘great teams’? Or maybe ‘great mess,’ or ‘grow eight thumbs’? Bumperrific takes this idea and builds a game show-style videogame around it. It’s a unique idea, and it works very well on the iPhone.
The game is set up kind of like Wheel of Fortune: in the first two rounds, you get a hint and a vanity plate that’s totally blanked out. To finish the round, you have to fill in the letters enough that you can guess what common phrase the plate means. To fill in the letters, you have to solve other plates.
For instance, you might start with a license plate with seven blank spaces on it, and the hint, ‘This plate belongs to a winner.’ To fill in the letters, you’ll have to answer questions like, ‘Which plate belongs to an eye doctor: INYURIZ or BATMOBL?’ If you choose the correct plate, the iPhone’s keyboard pops up and you have to spell out the plate in grammatical English. In this case the answer is, ‘In your eyes.’
How confident are you about your answer?
Round three is a speed round, so you get a minute to solve seven plates as quickly as possible. With each correct answer, you increase your chance of getting bonus points in the bonus round. At the end, your score is tallied and sent to Game Center leaderboards. The game show format is well executed, and it really pulls you along.
Our biggest problem with the game is actually typing on the iPhone keyboard. Because there’s no wide-screen mode or autocorrect, it’s easy to accidentally type incorrect letters. Worse, the timer is always ticking down, costing you points for each second that ticks by. Nor is there any leeway for misspelled answers or for slight variations on the answer they game is looking for. For instance, if the puzzle is URTHMAN, the game won’t accept ‘You’re the man’ as an answer. It only accepts ‘You are the man.’
Also, there’s no multiplayer mode, which would be fun even if it were limited to asynchronous score challenges. Lastly, in a common problem with this type of game, if you play through several matches, you’ll likely start seeing repeated plates.
Despite all of our whining, our overall experience with Bumperrific was very positive. It’s a unique and fun game, with a polished presentation. Try it out if you’re in the mood for something new.