Saturday afternoon is an ugly time for any major city centre in the UK. Just witness the hoards of steely eyed mums, permanently bored and hungry kids and grumpy dads trudging around the shops, all desperate for a bargain/McDonald's/way out respectively. Woe betide the poor fool who gets in their way.
Yes, we've all seen shopping madness in its full, terrifying form. Sumea's Shopping Madness is a rather different proposition. It's actually quite fun, for one thing, and comparatively easy on the eye for another.
Set across five floors of Zoy's department store, you must scoot around with trolley in hand collecting items in a race against the clock. Think of it as Supermarket Sweep minus Dale Winton. That's bordering on heresy, I know, but please bear with me.
The action is viewed from a top-down perspective, and it's all rendered in cartoon-like 2D. Control couldn't be easier, with only two keys to remember – '6' and '4' control your movement clockwise and anticlockwise using the Pro settings (don't even think about using the counter-intuitive 'Basic' control method), with your shopper constantly moving forward of their own volition.
It's a little like trying to control a bull in a china shop, only instead of keeping your bucking steed away from the valuables you have to steer towards them.
There are two modes to choose from on each floor. The first is always Manic Minute, which involves a minute-long dash in which you have to collect as many items of shopping as possible, with a string of ever tougher targets set before every stage. Items vary in value according to type, and there are bonuses scattered around to assist with your task.
These include Sale Fever basket icons, which temporarily double the value of everything you collect, and clock icons that grant you an extra five seconds of shopping time. These bonus items add a welcome layer of strategy to what is, on the surface, a very simple game.
The second mode you can opt for varies from floor to floor. Tasks here can range from following directions to a select a few items in a timed treasure-hunt game, to playing a version of tag where you have to grab a single item and keep it away from other shoppers for as long as possible.
Each of the games is fun in its own way, and Sumea has managed to eke out a surprising amount of variety from a fairly straightforward concept.
Our main grievances with the game relate to a lack of polish in certain areas of Shopping Madness. The Basic control method is a mess, and it's mystifying that the developer has included it at all, let alone made it the default setting. Though the option is there to change it, we could see it putting off the casual audience that this it's evidently aimed at.
Another niggling annoyance was the inability to manually scroll text. Instead, you have to wait for an irritating few seconds before the game does it for you. It's another minor gripe, but it's representative of the rough and ready nature of some of the game's menus and general presentation.
We can't fault the main action, though. Shopping Madness is a fun diversion for any mobile owner and an excellent distraction for those of you due to be dragged around a retail outlet this weekend.