Probably not unlike a lot of real grannies, weird but fun.
By Jason Nimer
Leave it to iOS. As an emerging platform with tons of smaller developers constantly contributing new game experiences, one theme seems to run through every new release: ANYTHING can be a game now. Any crazy concept, and strange new method of play, any subject matter; all seems to be fair game when it comes to the App Store. If someone told you 10 years ago that you'd spent as much time flinging birds at pigs as you did playing the new Final Fantasy or Resident Evil, you'd laugh them off as an obvious lunatic. Things change, huh? Anyway, not to be outdone in the 'anything-goes' iOS marketplace, developer Mediocre has given us Granny Smith, a title that has players controlling an octogenarian in a mad dash against some young punk for a bunch of coins and apples. Say what?
Granny Smith's gameplay comes down to a pretty even melding of the endless run genre and the bite-sized levels made famous by games like Angry Birds or Cut the Rope. Granny, on rollerskates and armed with a cane, mind you, automatically dashes to the left in a race with a kid who looks like the child of Dennis the Menace and the Hamburgler. Players have two buttons at the bottom of the screen ' one to swing Granny's cane and one to jump ' and they'll need to grab each 10-20-second level's three apples before your computer-controlled adolescent nemesis. Grabbing each level's many coins helps as well, as they can be used for skipping levels that might be a little too tough and/or special powerups to help in your races. As you might expect, this is where the in-app purchases come in, offering players thousands of coins in exchange for real-world dough. These aren't 100 percent necessary to triumph, but do offer an easy way out for the wealthy, unskilled player.
What sets Granny Smith apart for endless runners like Canabalt is that there is a bit of Tony Hawk- like skill in making sure Granny's trip is a smooth one. When players tap and hold the jump button, Granny will start flipping end over end in a mid-air somersault. It's up to you to make sure she lands on her feet, lest you sacrifice a few coins and most likely the lead in the race. This gets MUCH harder as the game progresses, but luckily, it isn't a necessary action. Simply tapping and releasing jump will get you the same airborne results without the worry of bailing. Still, it's more fun to utilize the spins, and it's hard not to crack a smile at the thought of a grandma being a candidate for a spot in a video of skateboard/bike/blade wipeouts.
There is a certain bizarre charm to Granny Smith, and the short levels make it easy to come back to when you have a few seconds. The controls are spot-on and the somersault mechanic makes things a bit more challenging than just tapping a single button at just the right second. This certainly won't win any game of the year awards, but it can be fun in small doses. Weird, but definitely fun.