We've all been tempted by those seaside crane machines. Lured in by the promise of easy pickings, we've slotted shiny coin after shiny coin into them with reckless abandon.
What if you liked the grabbing part of the machine but not the tatty prize you get at the end of it? If only there was a game that catered to your desire for picking things up with a robotic arm.
Step forward Grabatron, which lets you not only pick things up using a technological claw but throw them about as well.
Grab and go
The game is the tale of a plucky spaceship hovering above the earth. Dangling below the craft is the titular grabbing device. It's your job to cause as much chaos with it as you can before you're shot down by pesky humans.
The controls are simple. You move the spaceship along a 2D plane by tilting your phone - a handy calibration setting means you can hold it at a comfortable angle and still play. Tapping on the screen unleashes your claw and snares anything unlucky enough to be underneath it.
Once you've caught something - be it a human, farm animal, car, or tractor - you can either tap your ship to abduct it, or swipe across the screen to throw it to its squelchy, fiery doom.
Some of the unfortunate things on the ground have arrows above their heads. Picking one of these up starts a brief, simple mission. You might have to collect a set number of cows, blow up some cars by throwing them at other cars, or knock down a few towers.
The missions are timed, giving impetus to the otherwise slightly meandering proceedings. There's new equipment to unlock that makes your grabber even more grabby, and secret areas for you to explore.
Destroying everything in sight is certainly fun, and Grabatron looks pleasingly like a '50s B-movie - all flying saucers and angry yokels. But after a while the game starts to drag. It's a highscore chaser, pure and simple, but the repetitive nature of the gameplay makes chasing an underwhelming experience.
Hurling your first 20 cows at a barn and watching them explode is quite funny. After that, you just feel a bit cruel. Uninspired backdrops and a lack of any real challenge do nothing to help proceedings.
Grabatron is a good idea, and somewhere there's a good game trying to get out. It's fun, and will put a smile on your face if you're the sort of player who likes his entertainment in brief, violent bursts. Completing some of the missions is a tough ask, too. But there's not enough entertainment here for the long run.
Much like the crane machines, Grabatron is a shallow experience. It's fun for a while, but eventually you'll get tired of grabbing the same things over and over and move on to something a little more satisfying. And you won't even have an oddly shaped cuddly toy to show for it.