I was approached by Mastiware, a new game development studio founded by four French students, to take a look at their first game, “Joe the Worm – Escape or Die”. As a casual gamer, currently hooked om a poorly made but very addictive Bust-a-Move clone on the iPod Touch, I’m absolutely not a gaming expert. But I decided to take a look anyway, and now I wish I hadn’t.
In “Joe”, your task is to keep a little worm alive. this wouldn’t be very hard if not for two complicating factors. First, Joe is very hungry. You need to point it to fruit scattered around the screen. But at the same time you have to keep him away from two intersecting “beams” that move across the screen randomly. This means our little worm is either constantly hungry, or in risk of serious harm. Fortunately, there are several powerups, which you get when you complete a “recipe”. Certain combinations of fruits unlock things like increased speed, or the ability to stop the beams temporarily.
As charming as “Joe” is, I ran into several problems when playing the game. The first and most important one is that I absolutely suck at it. I don’t like how this game frustrates me. I’ve always had difficulties with games where sprites leave the screen and appear on the opposite side. My brain just doesn’t handle that well. Another issue is that when Joe is moving along the edge of the screen, there’s no way to make him cross that edge. There’s simply no room to tap there. This leaves me struggling so hard to keep Joe away from the beams that I regularly miss powerups.
If you can handle a little frustration, and are looking for a potentially addictive, beautifully designed game, Joe may be just what you need. As for me, I think I’ll give up. You can find Joe in Apple’s App Store. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though :).