When I was a kid, there were a handful of games that swept the nation; Pac-man, Breakout, and Missile Command to name a few. My favorite, however, has always been Space Invaders. It doesn’t get much simpler than shooting aliens out of the sky before they are able to descend on you or bombard you with alien weaponry. Many have taken that concept and built on it. The rail-shooter of the 80s and 90s were, of course, the next evolutionary step. While we have mobile rail-shooters today, Robots Love Ice Cream struck a cord with me that brought back that feeling of shooting down aliens I got from Space Invaders.
Like Space Invaders, in Robots Love Ice Cream you control a land-bound vessel with an upward facing canon. Robots patrol the skies; bobbing and weaving while firing projectiles down at you. Their goal is to steal ice-cream from the planet they’re invading while the planet’s hero (you) are distracted shooting at their armada of robot minions. Oddly enough, you fire ice-cream projectiles at the robots, which destroys them. Why they don’t just catch THAT ice cream and go home satisfied is probably a question left unanswered.
The gameplay is fun enough, though I wish there was a little more variety in the types of enemies. Eventually the levels start to blur together, as they all sort of look and feel the same. Some have said Robots Love Ice Cream is too slowly paced for a game that lives comfortably in the arcade-shooter style, but I disagree. Due to the touch-based controls of mobile games, I don’t think a fast paced shooter would work quite as well without physical control.
Throughout the game players pick up the in-game currency, sprinkletonium, that spills out of slain robots and spend them on unlocks. Said unlocks include new types of weapons like a hot fudge sunday that fires in a slow, spread pattern, or a rapid firing popsicle that does little damage per projectile, but fires at gatling gun speed. From there, players can spend additional spinkletonium to upgrade the fire rate, damage, or spread of each weapon. Like you would expect, upgrades are inexpensive at first, and climb in cost the further they’re upgraded.
Therin lies the main problem with the game. As upgrades become more costly, the only two-choices you have to progress are to repeat the same levels you’ve already played, or spend real-world dollars to purchase additional sprinkletonium. Considering there are only 20 levels, and that they all feel very much the same, Robots Love Ice Cream and quickly turn into a grind if you don’t, once again, open your wallet. Were there more variety in terms of enemies or objectives, this would be less of an issue, but alas, here we are.
That said, Robots Love Ice Cream works well as a game you play in five minute increments. Completing one run-through of a level is a charming and experience, and completing the game’s challenges is satisfying.
The graphics and music in Robots Love Ice Cream is extremely well done. The music, actually, might be some of the best in a mobile game I’ve ever heard. There are some sound effects, however, that are noticeably missing. Firing a scoop of ice-cream has a squishy launching sound, yet when the ice strikes the enemy, there is no impact sound. Similarly, while the UI buttons are clear and colorful, interacting with them provides no audible feedback. Normally I would just gloss over this type of thing, but the lack of sound effects really stands out in Robots Love Ice Cream since the rest of the game is so polished and well done.
Overall, Robots Love Ice Cream is fun, but imperfect. If they removed the in-app purchases and softened the grind, would the game be fixed? I’m not so sure. My hunch is it would be a bit too easy. At the end of the day, all this game feels like it needs is a bit more variety. Failing that, buyers will have to be content with a game that gives them reasonable enjoyment in five to ten minute increments.
Robots Love Ice Cream Review: Super Sweet
-Plenty of upgrades and unlocks
-Charming graphics and music
-Levels can feel very similar to one another
-Earning currency for upgrades in game can be a grind
-No indication announcing when one of the big baddies appears off screen