Freebie Focus: Underworld: SweetDeal
Courting controversy is generally acknowledged as a great way to sell games. Unless, that is, you're trying to sell them on the iPhone. Apple is notoriously intolerant of any App Store content that could even be accused of courting controversy, so the GPS enabled update of the classic RPG Drug Wars never really stood much of a chance.
Until developer A-steroids decided to jab a sarcastic elbow in Apple's ribs by substituting its game's narcotics with sweets, cakes and other tooth-rotting goodies. The gameplay remained satirically identical and acerbically suggestive, yet it was apparently enough to make it past the highly literal App Store censors.
This kind of statistical, massively multiplayer online game has proven to be immensely popular on the iPhone, and there's no shortage of similar, free (and usually Mafia based) online games available. So why choose one that's been so clearly re-engineered to make it past the thought police?
One of Underworld’s most prominent features is its use of GPS. The game focuses on your location in a very literal sense, only allowing you deal your illicit wares within a specific, real-world radius. Sugar, you see, has been deemed illegal, placing the entrepreneurial confectioner in a unique and potentially profitable position.
By checking your in-game map (taken directly from Google maps) you can see the sugar junkies, sweet dealers and confectionery labs within the vicinity, and it's up to you to either meet the demand for illegal spogs in the immediate area, or buy some cheap, syrupy contraband and transport it to a different area where that particular confection is in short supply.
The twist in this sugary tale is that you must literally transport the goods - physically moving to a different area in order to shift your dessert-based dope. While this might initially sound like a chore, you could easily find yourself in a position to buy cheap sweets while at work (for instance) that you can then sell to people who live down the street when you get home.
Once you've turned a tasty profit from such an endeavour, you're guaranteed to be addicted to this unique location-based gaming system.
You also need to be careful when travelling around (again, quite literally) with a bag of illegal sweets in your virtual back pocket. The police are constantly on the prowl for criminal confectioners such as yourself, and wandering around brazenly can often see your profits going quickly down the drain.
The game expands in a variety of ways as you establish your position as a sweet dealer, enlarging your territorial radius, opening up new forms of confection, enabling you to carry more candy and a variety of other wonderfully entertaining features.
The real crime here is that other developers are charging for games that aren't nearly as addictive or imaginative as Underworld: SweetDeal. I want candy, and so should you.