Human psychology being what it is, we're happy to take credit for our good luck while cursing the gods when the dice roll against us.
This is fine for games in which you're happy to wager cold, hard cash, but the attitude makes it much harder to introduce elements of chance into video games, which are generally skill-based. Success is simply accepted as our due while failure is written off as a problem with the game.
It's often a lose-lose situation for the designer, which makes UK developer Full Fat's Coin Drop that bit more impressive.What goes down?
Mixing up elements of Japanese arcade ball-bearing dropping game Pachinko and PopCap's Peggle (the ultimate example of a game mixing skill and chance), Coin Drop's presentation, layered achievement structure, and general joie de vivre makes it a pure fun experience.
The basic gameplay is very simple. You start each level with a set number of coins to drop down each vertical playfield. This you do by tapping anywhere on the screen - a coin falls from the top of at your finger's lateral position. You can have up to five coins in play at any one time.
Of course, it's unlikely they will have a clean drop to the bottom of the screen, where they eventually fall into one of five slots. All manner of pins, rotating discs, breakable blocks, wormholes, magnets, lasers, and other wacky, dynamic items are in the way to impede and divert your coins' motion.
This provides the opportunity for some skill, at least with respect to timing, as you try to drop your coins at just the right point to fulfil various goals.Like a bad penny
The most basic objective is to hit the four 'bad blue coins', which are located somewhere on each level. As the game progresses, these are more cunningly hidden away, forcing you to bounce, propel, and nudge (using your iOS device's accelerometer) your falling coins to where they need to go.
But while the bad coins are required to unlock each subsequent level, the traditional three-star reward system linked into each level's high score structure opens up another set of objectives.
For example, there are the pin sets, which provide points if your coins hit all of them; 'girl coins' that you can rescue from their incarceration by the 'bad coins' (tedious backstory warning); and the coin avalanche you trigger if you manage to light up all five slots at the bottom of the level simultaneously.
In addition, you're rewarded with points for almost every collision, bounce, and objective completed, ensuring there's always something to do or a performance to improve.Lap of the gods
Of course, as with Peggle and Pachinko, Coin Drop does contain plenty of randomness, which some players may find annoying. There are also a couple of levels in which the placement of bad coins seems downright torturous.
In general, however, the 60 levels that ship with the game (more will follow) are an enjoyable breeze, providing a balance between skill and luck, while the three-star score system encourages replayability without being overly demanding.
There are also Game Center achievements and leaderboards and the ability to unlock themed coins, all wrapped up with a neat graphical and audio style. Sure, it's not rocket science, but Coin Drop does exactly what you'd expect, and it does it very well.