With almost 550,000 active apps in the iTunes App Store, you get plenty of variation, and one developer continues to release games that are downright silly.
Many iPhone gamers will probably remember Justin Smith's Enviro-Bear 2010 (99 cents) from Captain Games. When the game came out in 2009, our Mac and iOS freelance reviewer, Paul Hughes, started the review by saying, "Enviro-Bear 2010 is part game, part joke, part art piece, and part game-design experiment." In Enviro-Bear 2010, the premise is that you are a bear getting ready to hibernate and you must drive a car and run over enough food to make it through the winter.
Of course, in real life a bear can't drive a car, so the car was notoriously (and purposely) extremely difficult to control. The game's graphics were not exactly top-of-the-line either (pretty terrible in a funny way), but that didn't stop people from scooping up this game by the thousands. Enviro-Bear 2010 was simply hilarious to play, with a silly concept that had to be seen to be believed.
A new game from the same developer just hit the iTunes App Store a couple days ago that may not be quite as absurd as Enviro-Bear 2010, but it definitely rates high on the comedy/weirdness scale. It's called Justin Smith's Realistic Summer Sports Simulator (99 cents) and challenges you to compete in several Olympic-style summer games. You can choose to represent several different made-up countries which have no bearing on the action. But what's funny about the game is that Justin Smith's Realistic Summer Sports Simulator is anything but realistic. Featuring 8-bit Atari 2600-like graphics and a control system that seems to be used more for comedy than for controlling your blocky little athletes, JSRSSS is about the absurdity of playing more than it is about winning.
The control system involves stretching rubber bands that are attached to your athlete to make him move, jump, row, and perform every other discipline in the games. In the 100-yard dash, for example, you'll repeatedly stretch a rubber band out in front of your runner and he'll tumble and fall forward each time until you get to the finish line. In the high jump, you'll need to stretch the rubber band up to drag your jumper higher in order to clear the bar. Each event is extremely difficult to pull off with the control system, but every one of them will make you chuckle at the absurdity of even trying to complete the task at hand.
The game offers several events to compete in, but the major drawback to JSRSSS is that it only comes with four events to start with for your initial purchase of 99 cents. After an in-app purchase ($1.99, so $2.98 total) you can practice competing in 10 additional events, including the hammer throw, rowing, weight lifting, and race-walking. When you think you're ready for prime time (you never will be), you can hit the Begin Games button to compete in all the events, giving you only one shot at the gold for each event (definitely no easy task). At the end of the games, a silly little victory ceremony shows the top three champions on the podium and with some luck you'll be one of them. You also have the option to play with up to four players on the same device (which will inevitably be pretty fun). But is the full game worth $3.98? Unfortunately, you'll need to spend at least 99 cents to find out.
In the end, Justin Smith's Realistic Summer Sports Simulator may not be as funny as Enviro-Bear 2010, but it's definitely a unique and silly game that certain people will enjoy just for the absurdist humor. If you get the gold, we're willing to bet you're one of the only people to pull it off.