Bottom Line: It plays like Angry Birds, but gets very hard, very quickly and I think that will scare away most younger kids.
The object of The Drop Out is to save furry shapes called, easily enough, Furries, who are stuck on various ledges, by flinging a Boo (a smily blue circle, also furry) and knocking them off the screen. The basic Angry Birds-type engine is evident immediately, but...
To fling the Boo, the player must simply tap and drag behind a dotted line of the left side of the screen. Easy to do, especially since a few arrows appear to give the player some idea of where the shot is headed, but the necessary placement of the shot is different every time and becomes progressively harder rather rapidly. Some shots need to touch the various Furrie stacks oh so gently, while others need to crash into them as hard as possible. Others have to be placed perfectly.
The unique element of where to place the shot starting point adds another element to the complexity. Sometimes, I tried and tried to make a shot work only to realize that I just needed to adjust my starting point slightly. Also, the player can shoot the Boos rapid fire, as quickly as they wish, so objects can be targeted while they are still falling.
Different Furries are worth different point values and each level has a set value that needs to be reached to move on the next level. The player can knock all the Furries to safety and still lose the level. Each Boo costs points, so the more the player fires, the tougher it is to reach the target score. Red Furries are added later and they also reduce the score if knocked off.
There are also stars trapped within the Furrie-created stacks that need to be touched by the Boo to be earned, but the player doesn't have to get the star to advance to the next level.
The "but" about the Angry Birds comparison is that The Drop Out, by digitalPOKE, gets challenging very quickly. By level 12, one or two missed shots means the player can't win that level and the dreaded "Level Failed" screen appears. There is also a timer that appears when necessary to add even another level of difficulty to the proceedings.
The app is GameCenter enabled for accomplishments and is iPhone-native, meaning you'll need to x2 it to get it to play on the iPad, but as usual, my kids don't care much about that if they like the game.
The Drop Out features nice Calypso music and terrific chirpy-like sounds from the various participants. The cackling witch sound when you fail to complete a level gets annoying really quickly though.
The app is well-done and plays very well, with an simple interface and instructions that are fairly easy to follow, but the difficulty is a significant problem for the kids' app market. There are four worlds of 30 levels each for a 120 total and by level seven it started to get a little tough for me. I'm an advanced gamer (read: nerd) and I played the app for an hour or so and was stuck on level 14...out of 120!
For an adult that likes a challenge, that might sound epic. For a child, it's a bit too much, even though I appreciate the other aspects of the game. It's only 99 cents but most kids are going to get VERY frustrated very quickly with this app. Take a look for yourself if you think you're up for it or for a child that's not going to get frustrated easily.
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This review was completed by Ron Engel, who dropped out of the Boy Scouts when he realized it entailed sleeping in places away from his Momma. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.