When a mobile port of Vlambeer’s hit arena platformer Super Crate Box (Free) was first announced nearly five years ago, it felt like huge things were on the horizon for the small indie developer in the mobile realm. Despite being a twitchy game built for physical controls, Super Crate Box actually translated extremely well to the touchscreen and we absolutely loved it in our original review. Vlambeer had a novel idea for their update roadmap too, as there was a running total of all crates collected in the game worldwide and once that number hit certain milestones a new content update would be released.
Well, I don’t think Vlambeer was prepared for how popular Super Crate Box would be on mobile and those thresholds were quickly hit well before any of their planned content updates were ready. Despite that, Vlambeer hustled and did release two significant content updates for Super Crate Box on iOS, one in January 2012 about a month after its initial release and one in April of 2012 when the crates collected milestone had passed the 100 million mark.
All that momentum Super Crate Box had built up quietly faded throughout the rest of 2012, and the game’s last update came in December of that year adding just a couple of minor features and promising that a huge version 1.2 content update would include support for the (then-new) widescreen of the iPhone 5 and “a bunch of new characters and challenges!" Obviously it’s been nearly four years since that promised content update and it still hasn’t materialized, though it was supposedly ready and coming soon more than a year and a half ago in January of 2015.
Then there’s Vlambeer’s other hit mobile game, Ridiculous Fishing ($2.99). First of all, just getting Ridiculous Fishing finished and released for iOS after a demoralizing cloning scandal is an impressive accomplishment, and turned out to be well worth all the time and headache. Simply put, Ridiculous Fishing is sublime and one of our all-time favorite games, and earned all sorts of accolades following its release in March of 2013 including but certainly not limited to our glowing 5 star review, our own Game of the Year award for 2013 as well as Apple’s Game of the Year for iPhone for 2013. Ridiculous Fishing was a bonafide hit.
Much like Super Crate Box, there were plans for content updates to Ridiculous Fishing. Just a few months after its release, Vlambeer teased a huge content update that was in the works that would “double the content and add a completely new narrative arc" to the game, but other than a small content update in July of 2013 and a big localization update in December of that year, no new content has been added since.
Well, as Vlambeer gets ready to hit its sixth birthday this September, they’ve posted a new entry on their blog summing up the state of their games across all platforms and what lies ahead for them. For us mobile gamers, apparently we’ll be getting updates for both Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing in “the next few months." Sadly, the long-awaited content update for Ridiculous Fishing is officially not happening, and the forthcoming update will simply be adding support for newer devices and aspect ratios. As Vlambeer says about the decision to drop the content update, “We’ve thought long and carefully about this, but Ridiculous Fishing is really perfect as it is. We simply couldn’t find a way to improve it in a meaningful way, and as such, we’d rather leave it as is, instead of adding things for the sake of adding them."
As for Super Crate Box, it’s not really specified if the update with “a bunch of new characters and challenges" will still be coming, but to be perfectly honest all I’ve ever wanted for years now is an update with widescreen support. It’s not just that the black borders are ugly, but Super Crate Box is nearly unplayable with them as the black borders don’t register touch inputs, meaning you’re constantly dying because your fingers aren’t staying on the controls. It sucks, and I only just recently gave in and deleted Super Crate Box from my device after constantly being disappointed at an update that seemed like it would never come. I’ll happily reinstall the game should that update arrive–after all it really is one of my all-time favorite games–but I’ll believe it when I see it.
— Shaun Musgrave (@ShaunMusgrave) August 8, 2016
Everybody knows it’s extremely difficult being an indie developer nowadays, and Vlambeer is almost a victim of its own success as they’re a tiny studio that’s constantly stretched thin by having so many games on so many different platforms, being at lots of conventions all over the world, and collaborating with different developers on various projects. Ironically, in light of all the Ridiculous Fishing cloning drama, Vlambeer could really use clones of themselves to do all the ambitious things they set out to do.
It’s been heartbreaking to me personally to see Vlambeer’s two excellent mobile games wither away over the years, especially with how many times we’ve been told updates would be coming soon for them only to be disappointed over and over. I’m hoping more than anything that what Vlambeer said on its blog today will hold true, and we’ll actually be seeing updates to both Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing sometime in the coming months. I’m trying to be optimistic about it but I’m also not holding my breath.