On the Cheap – Crabitron

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On the Cheap is Squinshee’s regular gander at inexpensive or free games.

Crabitron (iOS)
Developer: Two Lives Left
Price: $3

Rarely is there a stuffed animal worth grabbing in claw machines. They’re loaded with plushes that are more cheaply made than a McDonalds Happy Meal toy. But this doesn’t prevent me from taking a whack at each one I see. Positioning the suspended claw with the dinkiest joystick is a total thrill. Time is ticking as I hop from each angle, verifying that the metallic hand is above that knock-off Pooh’s grabbable belly. With a press of a button, I watch as the claw shakily descends toward the honey-loving bear. It’s not about the prize (my favorite Hundred Acre Woods buddy is Eeyore), but rather controlling that damn claw.

Crabitron reciprocates my love of claws. You control a giant enemy space crab’s pair of impervious clenchers.  By placing both of your thumbs and pointer fingers on the screen–mimicking the crustacean’s pincers–you wreak havoc on unsuspecting space traffic. Small taxis crack with a mere pinch while groovy Volkswagon buses take both claws to snap in half like a Kit-Kat. Shoveling the carnage and floating passengers into the crab’s tooth-rimmed vortex of a mouth adds to your precious score.

Your presence, and accompanying celestial chaos, hasn’t gone unnoticed. Police cars, laser-equipped sharks, and space tanks rain fire down on the hellionic beast. But you have claws, perhaps the best. You’ll knock blasts back like a ping-pong paddle or catch them in your exoskeleton mitt and throw them right back. Zones end with a bang– waves of meteors, missiles, or rancid mini-suns barrage the screen. Sometimes it’s even a boss battle or a makeshift Breakout challenge.

The crab’s goofiness outmatches the game’s. His arms extend like a Stretch Armstrong action figure. Teeth fall out of his mouth as he takes damage. You can grab his eyes for no reason. He winces when shot, verging on tears when an arm crumbles off, and grins when feasting. The bumbling Banjo-Kazooie horns backdrop the kooky antics perfectly. Because despite this giant enemy space crab’s penchant for cosmic slaughter, I want to give him a hug fit for my most beloved Eeyore stuffed animal.

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