Last week, we took a look at the trailer for Hothead GamesKickin Momma [99¢/UHD], and left with the impression that it was pretty much Peggle [$2.99] with an added baby kicking element. After playing with the final product, I don’t think I could come up with a more apt description. Kickin Momma centers around a similar type of Pachinko-like ball-bouncing gameplay that PopCap’s title employs, and it does a great job at capturing the same kind of fun factor. It does add a few minor twists to the formula though, and finishes things off with its own brand of wackiness and top-notch production values.

The story follows a blue pear-shaped character named Momma, who has her sights set on an expensive jewel necklace. The problem is, she just can’t afford it. Not content to live without this prized possession, she solemnly lumbers over to the edge of a cliff, possibly to leap off and end her suffering from desire. Then, after kicking a rock over the edge, she discovers the canyon is littered with bright pegs and fantastic jewels just like the ones from her coveted necklace. Suddenly it hits her – she can take her babies and kick them one by one into the canyon to collect the jewels for her. Sounds like a logical solution to me!

The absurdity of the premise for Kickin Momma is actually a large part of its appeal. It may sound horribly immoral, but before you run off calling Child Protective Services, keep in mind that Momma is a big ol’ alien (er, uh, something), and the children seem to rather enjoy their bouncy journey to the bottom of the canyon, and always come out unscathed. So, you know, everybody wins in this scenario. So relax, tee up a baby, and punt your way towards riches.

There are 36 levels in Kickin Momma spread out over 3 different worlds, with a spot for a 4th world hinted at for a future update. You begin a level from the left of the play field, where you will set the trajectory of your kick using a handy arrow guide. Touching and dragging will stretch and point the guide wherever you want it to go, and a set of arrows surrounding a “kick” button give you the ability to have more incremental movements if you need to be more precise.

You start out with just a few children to kick, represented by the number in the upper left corner, but you can earn more as you play by scoring well on each turn. There are 10 red jewels in each level, and the main goal is always to knock them down from the play area to the ground where they are collected, with a minimum number needing to be collected to pass each level. Beyond that, you can also score big by triggering bonuses for lengthy bounces, hitting special blocks, or nailing enough pegs in a single turn to fill up an “on fire” type of meter. Your total score for each level will determine whether you earn a bronze, silver, or gold medal.

Kickin Momma’s gameplay is largely based around luck. You’ll aim your shot, kick a baby, and watch as it pinballs around the playing field, hopefully racking up enough points and jewels to advance to the next level. But, that doesn’t mean it’s completely devoid of strategy. You’re given a tiny window in the upper corner that gives you a close up view of your guide arrow’s tip. Success often lies in placing the guide at just the right position to bounce off a peg, nab a jewel you need, or earn some bonuses for a big score. It can take some good decision making and skill to collect enough jewels to pass a level, let alone earn a score good enough to net a gold medal.

As you progress, additional elements are added into the gameplay like different types of pegs, bombs, characters, and other items that keep things fresh. One of the highlights of Kickin Momma is the crazy art style and over-the-top effects that are constantly blasting all over the screen. Momma is known to bust crazy dance maneuvers while her babies are bouncing around, and typically her antics are pretty hilarious. You can also unlock several items to customize Momma with, like a mustache, boots, and a monocle. That’s right, Momma got a ‘stache. I told you this game is weird.

Depending on the your score in each turn, you are also treated to various fireworks, particle effects, and so much confetti you might think Rip Taylor was on the game design team. In general, this is what I like most about Kickin Momma. The gameplay isn’t the deepest, but it’s always fun, and who doesn’t love watching a ton of shiny effects bursting right before their eyes while a giant blue alien thing does the worm off to the side?

Kickin Momma comes with enough levels to keep you busy for some time, especially if you go back to earn a gold medal on each one. Plus, there’s Game Center achievements and leaderboards that increase the replay value even further. It comes in 2 flavors – a standard definition version designed for older devices, and a universal HD version for the iPad or Retina Display devices. If you enjoyed the somewhat crazy, random, arcade-style of Peggle’s gameplay, then you will likely enjoy Kickin Momma as well, just as players in our forums currently are.

TouchArcade Rating

  • cube

    Having recently started developing for iOS, I've decided that developers who pointlessly release a separate "HD" version for the iPad, instead of creating a universal app, will not be getting my money. Especially so if nothing extra is actually given with the iPad version! There really is precious little work involved in creating a universal app from your iPhone app, especially if it's considered from the start. It's greedy money grabbing from the developers and I will not support it.

    • Blackharon

      Many devs do this so the file size is small enough to download over 3G if you don't want the iPad resources.

      • cube

        Then why the extra dollar on the price? Any artist would start with iPad graphics as they're the higher resolution and then re-work them for smaller screens, so it can't be as an over head for creating the art work.
        Hopefully, this is a practise which will stop with iCloud and iOS 5 as devs will be able to store save game files online so that games can be continued between devices with the same user account/application... Time will tell!

      • Anonymous

        do what all other sane people do, wait for the sale.

      • Fredrik Jackson

        It's not necessary to wait for a sale, as the game kinda are on sale. 1.99$ is the 2nd cheapest price (not counting free)

      • Andy Raczynski

        i just meant that if one doesn't like the price/feature set, just wait for a sale.  the price is low already yes.

      • Adams Immersive

        The extra dollar is because the iPad market, while smaller in number of buyers, is priced higher per app. It’s what the market bears. I would argue that both (or the two added together even) cost WAY less than they are worth. And the iPhone version is even more absurdly discounted the iPad version.

        That said, I greatly PREFER universal apps. I just don’t demand it. It’s not as if the developers are getting “too much” from me if I pay the full $3.

      • Janketyjankjank

        If you actually look, retina assets add more to the file size, by far, than those necessary for the iPad. 

    • metalcasket

      ...aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand here we go again.

      Here you go:

    • Chungyen Chang

      Please see:

      Sorry, but as it stands right now, it is simply better business sense for devs to release two separate versions. If you want them to make all releases universal, you need to talk to Apple and demand a more flexible chart system, and then ask mobile companies to lift the 20mb 3g file size limit.

      • Janketyjankjank

        Again, retina assets are generally larger than iPad, but the rest of what you said stands.

  • metalcasket

    Also, isn't there supposed to be an apostrophe after Kickin? (Kickin' Momma) >_>

    Sorry IMNS...really can't help it. 😛

    • Anonymous


  • drelbs

    The HD version is universal and has retina, the SD does not.

  • Guest

    I don't think 36 levels is enough. Peggle has double that now, with more than one reason to go back and replay levels you've completed.

  • Guest

    I don't think 36 levels is enough. Peggle has double that now, with more than one reason to go back and replay levels you've completed.

  • Adams Immersive

    This looks awesome.

    Back before computer games, the two most popular leisure activities in the world were pachinko and kicking babies. Now they are combined! We live in amazing times.

  • Nick

    SD version for older devices, not universal, cheaper.

    HD version for retina and iPad, universal, more expensive.

    This I prefer much more than the separated versions. Because I have an iPhone and an iPad I can buy the universal. If I didn't have an iPad but instead had a 3gs or older iPod touch, I'd be happy knowing that I could spend less on a version for me.

    I think for the majority of games, though, unless you're creating a DRAMATIC interface change that doesn't require minor upscaling, there should be no reason to charge this higway robbery in iPhone/Retina/iPad games.

    Say what you want, the devs (the majority of them) that separate games into 2 different flavors are simply putting themselves out to simply get more sales, and to suck more money from us.

    I'd like an HONEST dev to answer us and give us an honest answer to whether it's really that much more difficult to create an iPad version once you've created an iOS device game. That's something I don't know if we've ever honestly, completely gotten a real pulse on THAT side of the pricing. Just a lot of complaining both directions.

Kickin Momma Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 4.5