Attack of the Mutant Ticks
iPhone releases have often championed the concept of less is more, those that are successful often stripping everything back to a simple idea executed well. There is naturally a limit to how much ‘less’ will bring actual benefit. Attack of the Mutant Ticks tells the story of huge mutant ticks invading planet Earth in an undisclosed future year. These invaders “attacked one people after another”, causing their faces to swell up in a rather unpleasant and painful manner. Now these dastardly ticks are after Connor – “during the walk of one day” – seeking nutrition from his chubby cheeks. It’s down to our hero pet dog armed with nunchaku to save him.
The player is at first greeted with complete silence. This continues into the score menu and storyboard. I cannot recall the last time a video game was utterly absent of any form of musical composition. Either way, it’s been a long time. This absence of music is quite unsettling and does not bode well for its future, as with ‘Play’ tapped the basic looking setup is presented, again without harmony. The only noises that do break the silence are of hitting a tick successfully and the metallic pang when accidently slapping Connor upside the face.
“Stranger side of video games”As Connor’s dog you must swat the trouble ticks on screen without accidently walloping your master with the nunchaku. Photos of real places are used like desktop wallpapers to provide the background onto which the action, if it can be classed as such, takes place. The dog is the only animated creature and then his movements are incredibly limited. Around him sprites of his master and the assaulting ticks appear and disappear as you attempt to tap on as many of them as possible as they rapidly flicker in and out.
Successfully hitting the ticks increases you score, with blows to Connor resulting in a deduction. The final score is then presented with an image of Connor’s face, the higher the score the less tomato-like his appearance is. This could have been accepted as a Flash game based upon Nintendo’s old Game & Watch products, with the sprites wobbling side-to-side as a means of animation, but this is without charm or nostalgia. The inherited Eastern niche elements it contains may only be of interest to those who like to see the stranger side of video games.
Attack of the Mutant Ticks’ greatest strengths are how little it cares and how bonkers it is in both story and concept. Whack-a-mole devoid of energy, this will hopefully be remembered as the beginning to a subversive Eastern onslaught in the iOS App store. I’m more than willing to wade through the mud to unearth the inevitable gem that will arrive. It could be said that journey has already begun. For now, the wise choice would be for everyone else to wait it out.