Review: Clowning Around
Thanks to the success of Angry Birds, the physics-based puzzle game has experienced a little bit of a renaissance over the last few years. Some of them have been little more than catapult games with a few changed graphics, but others have thought about the opportunities on offer. Thankfully Clowning Around is one of the latter.
Version Reviewed: 220.127.116.11
The goal is simple - have the clowns (who handily tuck up into a rolling sphere shape) make their way to the barrels of water dotted around each level. They can fall into them, they can roll along, they can be bounced by springs, it doesn't really matter. As long as they reach the barrel that is the same colour as their outfit, that's a win for the clowns, and one in the eye for the ringmaster.
Clowning Around looks fresh, but when you dig a little deeper, the concepts in use here are pretty common if you have been watching the evolution of touch screen games in the the last few years. There is a huge amount of Clowning Around that feels inspired by Angry Birds - the selection of the level packs and individual levels feels remarkably like Rovio's interface, and the three star system is pretty much ubiquitous as well. Let's call it a homage and something that makes it easy for the player to understand and then move on.
The other title that you might get some flashbacks to is Cut the Rope. The clowns, and many other objects, are held in place by chains at the start of each level, and you cut through these chains to allow gravity to take over. It's a simple move, but the number of different obstacles that are on the screen stop the game from getting tired very quickly, even with a simple sounding control system.
When you are using a touchscreen, and interacting with a physical world, there aren't a huge number of moves and tricks you can do. Clowning Around takes the world it is given and creates a fun and engaging game that is different enough to stand out, but familiar enough that casual game players on Windows Phone will feel at home while playing the trial.
The ten levels on offer in the trial version are just enough to get you excited and comfortable with the game before you are asked to pay for the full version. Getting that balance right is sometimes harder than creating the game itself, so congratulations to developers AceViral for getting all the individual elements right throughout all of Clowning Around.
The level design is critical in a game like this, and again Clowning Around comes up smelling of roses. As well as ramps and platforms throughout the levels, you have see-saws that need to be balanced or tilted by the clowns falling on them, there are trapdoors and buttons you need to roll over to activate them, there are cannons to throw your clowns back into the sky...
This is the sort of title that I would expect to see in the Xbox Live area of my Windows Phone. It's a really good mobile game that's unique and easy to play. The graphics are bright and colourful, while never getting in the way of the level design. And the latter contributes as well to keeping it fresh and addictive.
It's difficult to be totally original in a mobile game, and Clowning Around doesn't try too hard to stand out. What it has tried to do is be a really good game that's accessible to the casual game player. It has succeeded.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at