Halloween is in the air, both outside your window and on the App Store. Mr. Bill just got a spooky update that brings to the game a Halloween-flavored level pack called Mr. Bill Vs. Zombies. It has the exact same action as the other levels, but adds bats, zombies, rubbery pumpkins, and cadaverous arms that grab at you from their graves.
This pack adds a full 50% more content to the game, but unless you’re feeling an overflow of Halloween spirit, it probably won’t convince you to make the download if you haven’t yet. The graphical overlay is the only real difference between this and the existing levels. But we always like seeing free content added to games, particularly from big developers, who are more likely to release a game and forget about it.
Mr. Bill, as some iPhone gamers may know, is a claymation character from Saturday Night Live in the 1970s. The basic idea of the short comedy bits he starred in was that he’d take lots of pain and then end up being destroyed while yelling, ‘Oh nooooooooo!’ So it’s perfectly logical that they’d put him in a game full of punishment.
The game is a cannon-shooter, so in each level you pick a trajectory and shoot Mr. Bill out of a cannon or giant slingshot. The primary goal is always to reach the end of the level in one piece, but that’s easier said than done. His initial boost is never enough to get Mr. Bill to the finish line, so you have to flap his arms and guide him to the objects or people in the environment that help boost him along. This costs energy, however, which can be recovered by grabbing the food that floats in the air.
You get a circus and a farm theme in the game, each with an introductory video and 14 levels, plus its own set of graphics. In the circus theme, you can get extra air by guiding Mr. Bill into seals, clowns, balloons, and trapezes, but you’ll have to watch out for spears, acrobats, lions, and fire breathers. The farm levels have analogous elements, like helpful windmills and deadly pitchforks.
What the gameplay boils down to is thinking and acting quickly: Identifying each element as Mr. Bill flies toward it and hitting the boosts while avoiding the obstacles. If you can’t keep up, memorizing the levels works too, as they don’t change.
Better aim a little higher.
Each level has a secondary objective as well, like touching all of the balloons in a circus level or eating all of the corn in a farm level. Achieving the secondary goals isn’t necessary to move on, but if you complete them you’re rewarded with gold stars. There’s also an endless mode for each theme, which is great, but they’re missing leaderboards, so there’s little reason to shoot for a high score.
Mr. Bill is a polished cannon shooter, with fun themes and addictive gameplay. The difficulty can become a little frustrating in later levels, and the whole thing is very repetitive, but it should give you an hour or two of fun, whether you’ve heard of Mr. Bill or not.