Smartphone games, eh? They’re just casual fluff for people who don’t really play games.
Some of them even have so-called one-thumb gameplay, where there’s only one control to worry about. Imagine!
There are plenty of game snobs who still think that way, believe it or not.
I don’t care – I’m too busy trying to complete the first level of The Impossible Game. It’s a smartphone game with one-thumb gameplay, and it’s one of the most hardcore games I’ve played all year.
I should probably clarify that technically this is an Xbox 360 game conversion. But that doesn’t really matter, because The Impossible Game feels like it was made exclusively for phones.
It’s a stylishly minimalistic game, with a plain backdrop and a lead character (if you can call it that) that’s little more than an orange square. It doesn’t even have googly eyes.
It all works perfectly in context. The Impossible Game is a platformer of sorts, but one that’s been slapped with the most rigid, unyielding insta-death rule set you’ll ever encounter.
While all you have to do is tap the screen to jump over obstacles as your little square slides from left to right, the margin for error is always so tight, and the speed so demanding, that you’ll die again and again.
Rhythm is gonna get you
With TIG’s gameplay able to be whittled down to a manic series of taps and holds (holding the screen makes your square hop like a mad bunny), it feels as much like a rhythm-action game as a platformer.
This is reinforced by a suitably frenetic techno sound-track that’s been synced expertly with the action. Whacking in a decent pair of ear buds really benefits the game – both in terms of atmosphere and helping you get into the rhythm of jumping over spikes and pits at an almighty rate.
Still, The Impossible Game never threatens to get easier. There’s a practice facility that lets you lay down a restart-flag at any point in the level, but this is no guarantee of success. There’s no such thing as a quiet spot here, so placing your flag in a beneficial location is a task in itself.
That there are only a couple of levels here is hardly worth mentioning - it’ll take you endless retries just to complete the first level without entering Practice mode, if you manage it at all. Despite its lean, finely calculated mix of controls, visuals, and sound, this is a wilfully frustrating experience that many simply won’t enjoy.The Impossible Game warns you it’s going to kick you in the nuts, and then does so – repeatedly. If that sounds like your idea of fun, you should add three to the score and download it immediately. If you're merely curious, give it a shot - you might find yourself unexpectedly addicted to pain.