I was afraid Granny Smith ($1.99) would be one of those games. You know, the ones that are only funny because ha, look, an old lady doing something young people do? Puns might be the lowest form of wit, but that has to be in the bottom ten.
It surprised me, though, with its simple and charming approach. Granny isn’t out to be extreme, she just wants her apples. Some young punk wants them too, so she takes off after him. She is on roller skates, sure, but who says Granny can’t skate? It’s a bit rough, and she needs to use her cane to glide down the occasional power line, but she has it under control. Mediocre Games has made a good-hearted run at this post-Sprinkle release. I find myself cheering for Granny even as I fail, reset, and fail again.
You face the same challenge in each of Granny Smith’s levels. There is a punk out to get your apples. He’s not a perfect skater, but he’s not bad, so he’ll beat you if you’re slacking. Then he takes your apples, and you get a lousy score. Meanwhile, you skate forward without brakes, jumping at a tap and mashing another button to stick out your cane, zipping down power lines and swinging around to launch yourself up in the air. All the while, you collect coins and try to hit your landings just right.
I’m one of those people that can’t play racing games solo without reseting every single time I make a mistake. Granny Smith makes that entirely unnecessary. If you can keep going, you do—minus most of the coins you’ve collected in a Sonic-esque coinsplosion. But if you fall too far off the beaten track, you’re dropped back at the start.
This is a sensible call, but it can make for a strange experience. Sometimes you’ll be barreling along, smashing your face into the ground every few feet but stopping for nothing. Other times you’ll have a flawless run but miss a jump by a hair and need to start again. This makes the difficulty feel a bit spikey, as a few too many precise jumps in a row can be murder on your success rate in a way no number of otherwise crazy maneuvers can.
Otherwise, Granny Smith is pretty keen. There are a few dozen levels at the moment, wandering through yards, sewers, office buildings and zoos. The backdrops affect the challenges, too. You’ll have to find a way to drop hard into the sewer, then find a way to take out the window of the office building before meeting it head on. And Granny is happy to use the tools of the enemy against him, stockpiling baseballs to slow the punk down (or clear the path ahead) and bananas to knock him off his skates.
If you collect all three apples in a level, you get the equivalent of three stars. There are a couple other metrics to aim for, high scores and high coins, with the latter going into your bananas-and-baseballs fund. The scores hit the Game Center leaderboards, so there’s room to compete.
Granny Smith is a fun, high-speed platformer. It’s nice to take a break from the endless types and still keep up the inertia that goes with them. And if playing as Granny isn’t your thing, there’s always Scruffy the dog or Stanley the businessman to entertain. See? No mean-spiritedness intended, just good old-fashioned apple-chasing fun.