Developer:Crawl Space Games
Release Date:February 09, 2010
Summary:Throw knives at a clown strapped to a rotating wheel for hours of maniacal fun.
Did you ever have a phobia as a kid? Plenty of kids do, as I did to a degree. Mine was a little more cliche: I was scared of clowns. Maybe not downright petrified of them, but I certainly never thought they were cute, or appealing, with their strangely painted faces and warped features, bright bubblegum pink wigs and cheery, bright red noses. They were anything but cheery to me. I didn’t think clowns were comical in the least, and their silly slapstick acts brought neither laughter nor smiles to my cheeks, their faces instead contorting into mysterious dark lines and shadows beneath the misleadingly alluring, pastel paint. Perhaps if I had had clown stuffed animals, or been to the circus, and eaten cotton candy, taken from the giving hand of a genial grandpa clown in suspenders, perhaps then I would have seen clowns with something more than the rancid taste of scorched gumdrops. Actually, my initial experience with a clown was in the movie Poltergeist. Right, I know – the clown scene in that movie was absolutely terrifying. At least the clown in Stephen King’s IT was hilarious, even if he was distinctly scary.
I suppose that’s why when I came across Knife Toss by Crawl Space Games, I was pretty intent on trying it out. Okay, I can see how admitting glee over throwing knives at a clown strapped to a spinning wheel is a wee bit morbid, maybe even worrisome, but don’t worry, I’m not laughing quietly to myself and then sitting in corners rocking back and forth, slowly, and ironically, morphing into a clown, myself. It’s definitely not bowling, this game. Actually, from the standpoint of a game, Knife Toss is quite good. Upon opening the game, some quintessential circus music is heard – that melodious mix of mischief, mystery, kookiness and a tinge of malice that brings to mind elephants, clowns, dimly-lit tents, fire breathing, roaring lions, strange men on stilts, freak shows, and yes, even knife tossing. A wheel spins in each round, painted in a spiral of red and orange, and affixed to the center, with his ankles and wrists bound to the wooden slab, is a clown, bedecked in an outfit and style reminiscent of the Joker. His hair isn’t green, but is blue, and pronged like a balding man’s, and his larger than average red shoes and blue, striped, ruffled attire just scream clown – I half expect to see him gripping a cigar between those tar yellowed teeth of his. There are three levels of difficulty – Easy, Medium, Hard – and to achieve the latter two, you must first defeat up to Round 15 in easy mode, and up to Round 20 in medium mode, respectively. That doesn’t seem too hard, but wow, it sure is.
The first level left me a bit cocky – Oh, it’s this slow? Please. – but I soon realized after each subsequent round, the wheel spins just a bit faster, and the time allotted for you to pop all the balloon shortens down significantly. By Round 8 you’re looking at roughly 30 seconds to pop 10 balloons, which is made more difficult by the quickly rotating wheel. The clown continues to smile maniacally at you, his face frozen, perhaps, in sheer terror at having knives chucked at him – in this case, by a total amateur. Throwing the knives is easy – tilt the iPhone around to move the cursor, and when it lands on a balloon, tap anywhere on screen to chuck a knife. A whirling sound effect is heard of the knife slicing through the air and a nice pop is heard when a balloon is properly struck, and you are allotted 50 points. Continue popping balloons in succession, and you’ll garner extra points per successful streak (i.e. 5 balloons in a row, earn +5 points). But, be careful – the clown, like anyone, doesn’t appreciate having knives land on his precious, fleshy parts, and he’ll emit an OUCH! and later, low, dying moans.
Eventually, strike him too many times and you’ll land him in the hospital and it’ll be Game Over. Generally, I had no problem in keeping my cursor on the wooden wheel, but those more prone to wild tilts and turns may find themselves aiming off the spinning wheel, and on one of the side items, shown in the form of a crudely stenciled metal tab. Some of these are good, like the one that earns you double points (score!), or that one that increases your time (show as a clock with an arrow pointing up) but some, like the rabbit, increase the wheel’s spin speed, so watch – aim for only a select few.
The one problem with these extra features is it’s nearly impossible to focus on them with the increased difficulty and decreased time. Sure, you can try aiming for the tab the gives you extra time, but your cursor is so damn slow, you may just end up missing it. The slowness of the cursor helps when aiming, but when it comes to dragging it across screen to aim for a tab that will earn you more points or time, it’s pretty inefficient. But, it doesn’t damper the game at all – you’ll be far too immersed in throwing knives to care about small demerits like that. That, coupled with the hokey music and deflating balloons after every other round or so, makes for a very fun and amusing game. I never thought a clown game could be so fun.
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