Bottom Line: A delicious physics puzzler for ages 8+ that offers lots of tongue in cheek fun and makes the most of its blatant product placement. If you're ok with profuse use of the word dam, the first level is Free and there's of course a beaver to go with the sweet and sour flavor pops.
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The unfortunately named Give a Dam is a giant advertisement for Chupa Chups Lollipops in the guise of a physics puzzler game. Chuck Studios in conjunction with developer PT .Nightspade Multi Kreasi has created a series of challenges in which players must stack and balance long narrow crew sculls, sunbathers, life preservers and swimmers against river rocks in such a way that they touch all three Chupa logos in the middle of a raging river. If the player is successful, he earns a pop. Failure is quite dramatic as the whole stack of boaters and floaters which are "flavors-in-training" goes over the dam - hence the name.
The first level called the chocolate dam is free and includes 12 different set-ups. An additional seven levels each named for a Chupa flavor can be purchased for a $.99 in-app. Some levels can be earned for free by sharing on Facebook. In fact, reminders to share pop up after every five tries or so which along with the multiple social media and other external links is highly annoying especially since I purchased the full version already. Each flavor must be completed before the next is unlocked. There are a total of 80 challenges which get increasingly difficult.
Some of the arrangements of pops, rocks and buoys take trial and error to get the right combination. The only hint is that objects don't have to be stacked one on top of each other. Tipping the scull as it precariously balances against a boulder is the most challenging move I made. I also cheated the game once when I landed the scull on top of the rocks. It blinked madly but held long enough for the clock to run down and my score to count.
It took me a full level before I realized floats could be pushed out of the way by another object in order to firm up a base or take advantage of the longer reach of a scull. Part of the fun of this game is experimenting with what moves are allowed. The unique buoyancy of water adds to the calculations players must make when deciding how to arrange their boats and rafts. Some of the campers are on much more unstable floatation devices than others.
I rather enjoyed making improbable arrangements of the waterlogged campers to see if my stacks would hold long enough for the score to register. Players Beware! Once a piece is put in the river and fingers lifted off, it locks into place. I found myself wanting to make hairline adjustments quite often, but the locking feature did add to the difficulty and force me to plan ahead by two or three pieces before making my moves. Upcoming campers are visible across the top of the screen so it is possible to gauge how many will be needed to reach a particular logo and plan accordingly.
Different flavored dams add new campers on larger rafts and more obstacles in the river. The general concept and method of play remains the same throughout, however. While I found the game fun, it lacked the addictive appeal of My Diamonds and some other physics puzzlers. It seems to need something a bit more novel than continual stacking. Perhaps a strapping lifeguard, who gives Pamela Anderson and the cast of Baywatch a run for their money, could swoop in and pluck the hapless campers off their rafts saving them from an untimely end and sparing the counselors at Camp Chupa Chups from some uncomfortable calls home.
If your family is headed over the hills and through the woods to Grandma's house for the upcoming holidays, this app would make a fine diversion for the lengthy car trip. It's more mindless than strategic. Kids ages 8 and up should be able to handle the task of saving the campers at Camp Chupa Chups from the dangerous river, and don't be surprised if you find yourself visiting the Kiwi Dam either.
Jill Goodman recently enjoyed a Chupa Chup which was thoughtfully provided at her downtown Chicago hotel's check-in desk. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.