Today’s mobile obsessed society has created a few rather odd changes in people. Like me, maybe you have been affected by Phantom Vibration Syndrome, you feel like your phone is vibrating in your pocket when it is not actually doing so.
With all the information exchanged with smartphones these days I have noticed that people are just looking at the likes of Facebook and Twitter rather than talking to the friends around them. I have been guilty of things as well, so I can’t really complain too much when someone does it to me. However I once noticed a couple in a bar just staring at their iPhones and not talk to each other or even make eye contact all night.
Last week a friend of mine did cross the line though. The two of us went to a bar, as we sat down he reached for his phone. “Ah, he is going to check his messages”, I thought. But no, he launched a game. Feeling pretty put out by this, I quizzed him and without looking at the screen, while aimlessly brushing his finger across it, he told me that what he was doing would only take a second. With that, he pressed the home button and put the phone down.
It shocked me that he had started this game in the first place but I was even more shocked by the fact that all he did with it was randomly stab at the screen and then put the phone down again. I told him that it seemed like a pretty shite game if that’s all you do. “It very addictive,” he instantly countered, “Don’t knock it until you try it”.
So I tried it.
And it is indeed shite.
All you do in the game is put some plant food on a log and wait, eventually (after a couple of hours) some mushrooms grow and you swipe the screen to pick them up. You can mix various things together to make special mushrooms grow. If you don’t pick up the mushrooms in time they wither and give you no points. Pick up mushrooms to gain points, use points to buy more stuff to grow mushrooms.
Forgive me in asking this but what is the point? At my most generous I can say it is a bit like those item combining mini-games you sometimes get in Role Playing Games like Dragon Quest. Something which I have always found tedious and usually don’t bother with. Perhaps it’s a bit more like the Zen Garden in Plants Vs. Zombies, where you grow seeds to make plants sprout, which eventually gives you more money. The difference is though these are just extra ways to get added bonuses and have more fun in the actual game, not the whole point of the game itself. Is it a game or some kind of lame collection’em up? You can replicate the gameplay simply by unlocking your iPhone’s screen.
The only positive thing I can say about the game is that it is free. At least getting new mushrooms is based on patience and not just micro-transactions to buy the best stuff. One of the reasons I dislike Angry Birds is not just that it is a pretty meh game but also because of all the micro-transations it insists on. Call me Mr Traditional but I believe that if you spend money on a game you shouldn’t have to pay more to skip a level. Paying more to play less, it’s madness.
Anyway, maybe my friend is right and I am wrong, this app is currently the most popular smart phone game app in Japan and has launched a brand new Hello Kitty style character into the nation’s conscience.
A penis with a face.
I jest of course, this is supposed to be a nameko mushroom and while I can’t deny its resemblance to that foodstuff, there is something disturbingly phallic about the whole thing. No wonder the character is amazingly popular with girls.
Despite this character’s recent popularity, he (it can only be a he) is not an entirely new creation. Quite a few years ago a point and click game called Touch Detective was released on the Nintendo DS. I have always loved point and click games so I was very happy with the mini revival that this genre was receiving on Nintendo’s all-conquering duel screened machine. I was very tempted to buy Touch Detective but the perturbing character designs made me feel uneasy. Not only did the main character have giant, never closing, saucer eyes but by her side was a cock with arms, legs and a face.
Put me right off.
I knew that if I bought that game and looked at that member any longer the damn thing would haunt my dreams. Luckily after one sequel the Touch Detective games died and were forgotten about.
Unfortunately for me, some businessman somewhere decided to resurrect that character with the intent to market the hell out of it. Within seconds of that mobile game coming out, plushies, key rings, stickers were rolled out and the public, being the obedient little puppies they are, swallowed it all. Hell, there was even a song written about them. Say what you want about the likes of Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma, they are at least cute and cuddly. These “Funghi” are just grim.
Not only is the character itself disturbing but the situation stinks of the biggest corporate marketing shenanigans since Muppets Take Manhattan unleashed Muppet Babies on the world.