Heads Up! Hot Dogs
Adult Swim's silliest game to date is also one of its finest.
A developer has to go a long way to take the title of Adult Swim's Daftest Game in 2012. We've already been treated to the smiting god-hand of Velocirapture, the complex and romantic tile-shuffling puzzles of Girls Like Robots, and the psychedelically eccentric Super Monsters Ate My Condo.
But having created a game described in Adult Swim's own press release as "the most realistic hot-dog-head-balancing game EVER", we reckon developers Emmett Butler and Diego Garcia deserve to take that crown with Heads Up! Hot Dogs. Yes it's as daft as it sounds, but it's also one of our favorite games of this week.
The challenge is simple. Hotdogs will occasionally spawn in the air, and you need to catch them with a finger push and steer them towards the businessmen, joggers and hipsters who wander left and right across the level. Once each hotdog has been carefully balanced upon a pedestrian's head, you'll accrue points for each one, with bonus points awarded whenever your human vehicles pass beyond the edges of the screen.
If a poorly balanced hotdog tumbles to the ground, you've got three seconds to pick it back up and re-balance it on someone else's head, otherwise it vanishes forever. Wandering policeman will also take pistol-shots at any hotdogs within range, destroying them in the process. Lose five in total and your high-score attempt ends.
All of this sounds very simple and, once you've mastered the ancient art of balancing a hotdog on someone's head without it sliding off, it is. Fortunately there's plenty of variety to be found in the game's half-dozen or so environments, and each one of them adds a devilish twist to the challenge.
The starting stage introduces the basic gameplay. Get a silver medal here and you'll head off to the Big Apple, where steam vents occasionally erupt, blowing hotdogs off heads. In the famously windy Chicago, you'll have to allow for wind-speed when dropping off a hotdog. Then there are the anti-gravity challenges of the Space Station, where your frankfurters float around according to the current strength of the gravity field.
It's very easy to make a silly and eccentric mobile game, and the App Store's stuffed to the brim with them. Much harder though is to make that game entertaining and challenging at the same time. Fortunately, Heads Up! Hot Dogs ticks all of these boxes and does so wonderfully well. It may not be the most sophisticated game you can get for your mobile, but it is one of the most entertaining and original, and you can't really ask for much more than that.
What's Hot: A truly original gaming concept with all of the humor and eccentricity you'd expect from the publisher.
What's Not: For all the fun we had working through the levels, we didn't feel compelled to revisit all of them.